Paper Fans and Paper Planes: A classroom PPF example

This page is authored by Jamie Wagner, Ph.D., University of Nebraska
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project
Initial Publication Date: February 5, 2018


This in-class exercise has students create a classroom PPF which is simple to implement in about 15-20 minutes but has lasting impacts and applications.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

Students should understand a PPF, including all related concepts such as opportunity costs, attainable vs. unattainable points of production, and efficiency.

Context for Use

This activity would work in many different class sizes and takes approximately 15-20 minutes to implement.

Description and Teaching Materials

In this activity, each student will be given a sheet of paper and asked to construct either a paper plane or a paper fan. By plotting this point--along with other points developed throughout the activity--students will begin to see how a PPF is developed. Specific questions by the instructor will lead students to think about related concepts including opportunity costs, attainable vs. unattainable points, and efficiency.
PPF Activity Instructions (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 14kB Feb5 18)
PPF Activity Student Handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 20kB Feb5 18)

Teaching Notes and Tips

In general, this is a quick exercise that helps students understand what the PPF does and how it's useful. There are opportunities to expand but I find that keeping it simple and hitting the key points of the PPF is better. You can easily bring this game back when you talk about economic growth because the students will remember doing this in class.


References and Resources