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Teaching the Division of Labor in a Modern Economy

The optimal way to teach the value of changing supply and demand for CE.14.C. is for students to engage in a roleplay of the traditional division of labor contrasted with a modern division of labor based on microindustries, simulated through the affordances of new technologies (3-D printing). Students will “work” in a factory model where labor is divided among assembly workers, designers, and managers. The students will reflect on their experience before engaging in a microindustry model afforded by 3-D printers. Students will be able to act as designer, laborer, manager, etc. Upon completion, students will compare the two models finding similarities in terms of product design, profitability, productivity, etc.

CE.14 The student will apply social science skills to understand personal finance and career opportunities by

  1. identifying talents, interests, and aspirations that influence career choice;
  2. identifying human capital, such as attitudes and behaviors that strengthen the individual work ethic and promote career success;
  3. identifying human capital such as abilities, skills, and education and the changing supply of and demand for them in the economy.

Division of Labor

Students will use LEGO pieces to fabricate a “device” intended for sale on the world-market. Students will be assigned different roles within a group:

  • Designer: Creates a LEGO product design for the group to make.
  • Worker: Extracts LEGO pieces for fabrication. Reproduces LEGO design.
  • Manger/Accountant: Oversees production and productivity. Determines profitability of enterprise.

Students will produce “units.” The teacher will act as the owner to determine what the market wants (how many LEGO pieces a unit should have) and how much the factory should produce. The demands of the owner will change based on the imaginary market.

Following the simulation activity, students will reflect on their experience. Students will journal what the different labor groups did and how the experience felt.


Students will be given a tutorial on 3-D printing. Teacher will provide direct instruction on the 21st century changes in industrial production. With the advent of new technologies and globalization of economic activity, machines are able to produce material faster. Students will work in a group where they design and produce a product. In this model, students will act as entrepreneurs (simultaneously as owners, designers, and makers).

Each team will then use the 3-D printer to produce a final product. Students can assess each other’s products and production process. The teacher will continue to act as the market to indicate consumer interests (demand).

Upon completion, students will write a reflection comparing the two models.

TPACK – The pedagogy is that we will be placing the students in different labor and creator roles (division of labor), which is possible through the technology of LEGOS and 3D printers. This combination of Pedagogy and Technology will allow for Content (how human capital, supply/demand, and new technologies intersect) to be personalized for students, which makes it more likely to stick in their memories.

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