- 20 minutes
- Social and Emotional Skills
3Schedule 03/01/21 08:00 AM Trash or Treasure This activity allows students to think about subjective value and how it connects to the common phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Voluntary exchange is another economic concept that can be emphasized within this activity. You will have students challenge their mental model of deficit mindset to an https://teacheverywhere.org/activity/trash-or-treasure/Print
This activity allows students to think about subjective value and how it connects to the common phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Voluntary exchange is another economic concept that can be emphasized within this activity. You will have students challenge their mental model of deficit mindset to an asset-based mindset. Students will begin to see opportunities where there may have been none.
This activity was developed and submitted by YE educators Hannah Womack and Kasey Winegar!
Ask: Have you ever purchased previously used items? Why or why not? Have you ever sold your used items to someone else? What value was created for you and what value did you create for others?
Explain: Today, we will explore the business of selling used items and looking at what may be trash to some could be treasure to others.
Social and Emotional Skills
- In this activity, students are getting a real-world glimpse into the value of one person’s trash. This perspective can be related to the values of people from other cultures whether that culture is a different part of town, in a neighboring state, or even across the world in a different country. As students search eBay for various items, they are practicing Social Awareness and their ability to suspend their initial judgments and take the perspective and empathize with the people that posted and purchased the items that were listed. As they answer the debrief questions, they are learning to consider different social norms as they think about the different uses and intentions for the materials. This practice can also be called perspective-taking.
- Determine how you will share the activity with your students, including eBay links.
- Determine how you will engage students in debrief following the activity. You may consider setting up groups to allow for more discussion.
- Guide students to eBay online. Once on the website, ask students to search “Empty”
- Pro-tip: You may need to have them narrow it down to search for arts and craft items or collectibles.
- Ask students about what they are finding. Does anything surprise them? Did they ever think anyone would sell their empty toilet paper rolls? Who do you think might be interested in buying them?
- Discuss how or why “trash” can be sold online.
- Next, have students click “Advanced Search” for “empty.”
- Ask students to search for “completed listings”. Doing this search will yield actual completed sales.
- Request students to spend a few minutes scrolling through the results.
- After students have searched for a few minutes to find different types of “trash” sold online, begin discussing voluntary exchange.
- Ask students what voluntary exchange is and how platforms such as eBay allow for a voluntary exchange to happen.
- Ask students how subjective value comes into play when trading. Do we all value items equally?
Students can complete the debrief in many ways. Some options include typing/writing, in a group setting via any virtual call platform, or by recording their feedback using EdTech tools and sharing with their classmates.
- Does it surprise you that people are actually buying these items? Why or why not?
- What do you do with these items at your house? Can you turn your trash into treasure? Give examples.
- Do you just throw them away at your house? What are other ideas can you come up with besides throwing items away?
- Identify possible barriers and/or hurdles to selling your property?
- How do you ensure fair trade?
- How might the Foundational Value of Be Principled be important?
- How does one man’s trash is another man’s treasure lead to win-win?
- Give an example of being opportunity obsessed with this activity.
- Have students locate items in their homes that might be considered trash to them but a treasure to someone else.
- You could have them list the items they come up within the post/discussion thread, discuss them in the Zoom/Google Meets session and/or build upon it and have them actually try and begin collecting some items that they could try and sell to others.
- Have discussions about businesses such as Antique Archaeology (the American Pickers), ExtraCarbon (an online scrap buyer), etc.
- Why do these types of businesses exist?
- What need are they solving for?
- Guide the discussion around foundational values and how these types of businesses are making their own opportunities by finding new uses or things others think of as trash. Additionally, they are being principled and responsible to our society by cutting down on waste.