Summer School Students Explore the World of Experimental Economics

Posted: June 26, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jocelyn Rappaport

The Vernon L. Smith High School Workshops in Experimental Economics offered through George Mason provide rising high school juniors or seniors and graduating high school seniors from across the nation the opportunity to study economics in a hands-on environment. This experimental approach to understanding why markets and other economic systems work the way they do was pioneered by Smith, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

Students may choose from three summer sessions, each five days long, which begin July 7. They will learn economic principles and understand how market rules affect the behavior of individuals and the performance of the market as a whole.

Each week, approximately 24 students will be studying with economics professor Bart Wilson from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on the Arlington Campus. The day begins with an economics experiment in which the students earn cash based upon their decisions. The experiment is followed by a lecture, and another experiment or discussion problem. The day ends with a team problem. Game theory, auctions, public goods, and electricity markets are explored.

Students from Virginia, who make up a large percentage of the workshops, receive college credit at George Mason. “Not only do students gain credit,” says Wilson, “but also practical knowledge above a standard high school or introductory economics college course. In addition, students develop friendships while solving and discussing economic team problems and strategies with their peers.”

Much of the program is possible because of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics–a nonprofit organization that supports outreach workshops to introduce students and teachers to the methodology of experimental economics. This is the second year George Mason is offering the workshops.

For more information, visit the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science web site.

Write to at