As a member of the Economic Education team at the New York Fed, I work with my colleagues to enhance economic literacy and teach students about the Federal Reserve System. Our “classroom visits” program, which features guest instruction from members of the Econ Ed team for high schools and colleges, is a key part of that mission.
Since we returned to offering in-person classroom visits in May 2022, our economic educators have visited nine schools, including University Heights High School in the Bronx, Middlesex County Vocational & Technical School in Piscataway, New Jersey, and New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn. Through these in-person classroom visits and our virtual program, we have reached more than 800 students over the last year.
Ahead of each visit, we work with the teachers at each institution, who choose one of four topics: Introduction to the Federal Reserve System, Introduction to Monetary Policy, The Cost of College, or Think Like an Economist.
The inquiry-based presentations, which are tailored for each grade level, open with compelling questions for the students to help frame the discussion, and we then lead them to discover the answers through an interactive dialogue.
Students have shared how inflation has changed their family meals (for example, less chicken, more pasta). Each visit includes time for student questions, and we’ve seen curiosity about topics such as interest rates, cryptocurrency, and the status of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. We end each lesson by handing each student a packet of shredded U.S. currency that has been removed from circulation. (This usually prompts another question: “If I tape these back together, can I spend them?” Answer: No, reconstructed bills would not be accepted as legal tender.)
Middle school through college educators anywhere in the Federal Reserve’s Second District can request a visit, and our team of six educators accommodates as many requests as possible. Typically, we are speaking with social studies, economics, and finance classes.
Many members of our team have worked as full-time classroom teachers, and it’s especially great for us to be back in the classroom. In addition to the satisfaction of seeing students mastering new material and asking hard questions, we see trends and tools in teaching, current content, and curriculum. We also share what we hear from students and teachers with our colleagues in the New York Fed’s Communications and Outreach Group.
In the end, the real joy of our classroom visits is interacting directly with students. After a recent presentation at Academy of Medical Technology in Queens, it was an inspiration to hear a question from one hopeful female student: “You mean I can work at the Fed, too?”
The New York Fed’s in-person and virtual classroom visits are part of our suite of free resources, which includes lesson plans, activity sheets, teacher professional development, and educational comic books. To request a classroom visit, please see Classroom Visits. For more information and resources, see New York Fed Economic Education.
Chaeri Han is an economic education analyst in the Communications and Outreach Group at the New York Fed.
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.