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September 16, 2021

High School Fed Challenge: Inspiring Tomorrow’s Economists Through Problem‑Solving

Getting high school students to think like economists: That’s the goal of the High School Fed Challenge.

The flagship high school educational program at the New York Fed is an academic paper competition that encourages students in grades 9–12 to learn more about economics. The aim is to promote interest in the field as an area of study and the basis for a career.

The theme for the 2021–2022 High School Fed Challenge is the economic impact of climate change, and the format for submissions is a podcast script. Student teams, with the guidance of a faculty advisor, will conduct original research, solve problems, and express themselves creatively. Previous study of economics is not required.

Those who enter are encouraged to approach the economics of climate change from various perspectives. In creating a podcast script, students must think creatively about how to explain and discuss serious issues and determine how to convey a thoughtful, data-driven message in a unique way. (Please note that only written submissions will be accepted for the program.)

Selected podcast scripts will be included in the Journal of Future Economists, published by the New York Fed. All of the participating schools and teams are acknowledged in the publication in recognition of their hard work.

By taking an economist’s approach, students participating in the Challenge bring academic skills to bear on real-world problems. The competition empowers students to think of themselves as change agents, using economic thinking as a tool to make a difference.

In 2021, the New York Fed changed the format of the High School Fed Challenge from in-person presentations to the academic paper competition, with the aim of making it accessible to more schools. While this move happened to coincide with the onset of the pandemic, it was long planned.

In the first year under the new format, students tackled the theme of economic inequality. The inaugural issue of the Journal features student papers on topics including housing inequality, the economics of education, and monetary policy.

“We were blown away by the quality of the 66 papers we received,” said Heather Daly, director of economic education at the New York Fed. “Just as professional economists produce a mix of qualitative and quantitative analyses, so did the students. Every team that participated did truly outstanding work.”

In speaking with WNYC about his experience in the High School Fed Challenge, one of last year’s student participants put it simply: “I definitely love economics a lot more.”

For more information about the competition and a copy of the 2021 Journal of Future Economists, see High School Fed Challenge. If you know a high school teacher who might be interested in advising a team in this year’s competition, please share the Journal of Future Economists, along with information about rules and registration.

This article was originally published by the New York Fed on Medium.

The views expressed in this article are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.


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