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Students win first place for Economics Challenge

Cloquet High School seniors (from left) Max Marciniak, Jacob Schmidt, Jean-Luc Generau and Levi Peterson, members of the Cloquet High School economics team, display their state championship trophy they earned at the State Economics Challenge competition. Contributed Photo

The four members of the Cloquet High School Economics team brought home a state championship after competing at the State Economics Challenge held at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis last month.

Cloquet has a strong history of repeat showings at state for the last 10 years, according to Cloquet High School economics teacher/coach Tim Prosen.

Two years ago they were 12th in the nation for their division and first in the Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Michigan, North and South Dakota and Montana.

There are four rounds of competition: microeconomics, an individual 15-question multiple-choice test; macroeconomics, an individual 15-question multiple-choice test; international economics and current events, a team consensus 15-question multiple-choice test; and the last round is the top two teams in each division facing off in a quiz bowl round.

Levi Peterson took first place in the individual round and the team — comprised of seniors Peterson, Max Marciniak, Jean-Luc Generau and Jacob Schmidt — took first place in the team competition.

While they agree the class was difficult at first, they have learned a lot.

"The first test we took I understood almost nothing, it seemed really daunting," said Peterson. "I studied my notes, looked on Google and I researched things an hour in advance."

The students earned college credit at the University of Minnesota-Duluth for the economics class, which teaches students about supply and demand of services and products, as well as the world around us. They learn about financial markets and housing markets and other subjects that can help the students make choices in their lives.

"There is not an unlimited supply of goods," said Prosen. He noted that some adults do not understand much of what the students are learning in the class.

Among the students in the class, the top four are selected to compete on the team for state.

Marciniak summed it up.

"I grew to like it," he said diplomatically. "It made us more well rounded. It's become an extensive economic hobby."

The students had two months to prepare for state. They studied before school, after school or whenever Coach Prosen could catch them between classes and activities.

To win state, the young men first had to take two written tests, then faced off in a quiz-bowl-style competition, like a team Jeopardy, according to the students.

"They have you up on the stage with lights and buzzers," said Genereau.

The students were asked a variety of questions about such topics as microeconomics and supply and demand.

"If the price of an import good goes up 'x' amount, is it still profitable?" said Peterson about the type of questions asked.

Prosen gave an example of a relatively easy question that has been used on past tests:

The three main tools of monetary policy are:

• Government expenditures, taxation and reserve requirements

• Money supply, government purchases, taxation

• Coins, currency and demand deposits

• Open market operations, reserve requirements and the discount rate.

Another question supplied by Prosen is:

An increase in government purchases increases the income of some people and those people spend some of that increase in income on additional consumer goods. This phenomenon is known as the:

• Multiplier effect

• The investment accelerator

• The crowding out effect

• Supply-side economics

The answer to the first question is D, the second question is A.

Prosen helps the student prepare for the competitions by providing two massive binders packed with information.

"They work hard," said Prosen.

In order to qualify for national competition in New York City the students will need to place in the top four of an online test April 25.