Raising the federal minimum wage is always a controversial issue. On one hand, workers earn higher income. On the other hand, as labor becomes more expensive, companies may not be able to employ as many people. The potential for higher income levels and lower employment have important effects on the economy as a whole.

In this lesson students graph and solve systems of linear equations in order to examine the effects of wage levels on labor and consumer markets, and they discuss the possible pros and cons of increasing the minimum wage.

Students will

Given employment and job-seeker levels for two different wages, write and graph a system of linear equations representing labor supply and demand

Solve a system of linear equations in order to determine equilibrium wage and employment level

Discuss the impact of a minimum wage above equilibrium level on the labor market

Discuss the pros and cons of raising the federal minimum wage

Before you begin

This lesson can be used as an introduction to solving systems of linear equations.

How can you make money in a pyramid scheme? Students learn about how pyramid schemes work (and how they fail), and use geometric sequences to model the exponential growth of a pyramid scheme over time.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Seeing Structure in Expressions (SSE)

How much do you really pay when you use a credit card? Students develop an exponential growth model to determine how much an item really ends up costing when purchased on credit.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Creating Equations (CED), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)

How much can you trust your memory? Students construct and compare linear and exponential models to explore how much a memory degrades each time it's remembered.

Topic:
Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)

How has the iPod depreciated over time? Students compare linear and exponential decay, as well as explore how various products have depreciated and what might account for those differences.

How much Tylenol can you safely take? Students use exponential functions and logarithms to explore the risks of acetaminophen toxicity, and discuss what they think drug manufacturers should do to make sure people use their products safely.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Seeing Structure in Expressions (SSE)

How has the urban population changed over time, and will we all eventually live in cities? Students use recursive rules along with linear and exponential models to explore how America's urban areas have been growing over the last 200 years.

Topic:
Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (REI)

How should pharmaceutical companies decide what to develop? In this lesson, students use linear and quadratic functions to explore how much pharmaceutical companies expect to make from different drugs, and discuss ways to incentivize companies to develop medications that are more valuable to society.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Creating Equations (CED), Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)

How has the human population changed over time? Students build an exponential model for population growth and use it to make predictions about the future of our planet.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)

How hard is it to pay off municipal fines? Students use linear equations and solve linear systems to examine what happens when people are unable to pay small municipal fines. They also discuss what can happen to the most financially vulnerable citizens when cities rely heavily on fines for revenue.

Topic:
Creating Equations (CED), Expressions and Equations (EE), Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (REI)

Why are so many Americans dying from opiate overdoses? Students use exponential decay and rational functions to understand why addicted patients seek more and stronger opioids to alleviate their pain.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)

How have video game console speeds changed over time? Students write an exponential function based on the Atari 2600 and Moore's Law, and see whether the model was correct for subsequent video game consoles.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Seeing Structure in Expressions (SSE)

Why hasn't everyone already died of a contagion? And, if vampires exist, shouldn't we all be sucking blood by now? Students model the exponential growth of a contagion and use logarithms and finite geometric series to determine the time needed for a disease to infect the entire population.

Topic:
Creating Equations (CED), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Seeing Structure in Expressions (SSE)

Sign In

Like the jacket, this lesson is for Members only.

Mathalicious lessons provide teachers with an opportunity to teach standards-based math through real-world topics that students care about.

How do the rules of an election affect who wins? Students calculate (as a percent) how much of the electoral and popular vote different presidential candidates have received, and add with integers to explore elections under possible alternative voting systems.

Topic:
Number System (NS), Ratios and Proportional Relationships (RP), Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (REI)