By APH Staff—The students in Ms. Cook’s critical inquiry class have brought home a prize, first place in the first Schools Economic Challenge (and £500), for their video exploring the economic principle “the tragedy of the commons” at Gloucester seaport. The challenge to high school students around the world was to make a three-minute video on a topic related to where they live, using the work of a famous economic thinker. The members of the winning team are seniors Leah Humphreys, Micaela Trzcinski and Kathryn Ward and juniors Marietta Atkins, Meghan Curtin, and Elaine Turner. Their entry examined the problem of allocating fishing rights while maintaining fish stocks in Gloucester, MA, America’s oldest seaport. The tragedy of the commons, as the video explains, occurs when natural resources that are not owned by anyone may be overexploited unless they are regulated in some way. To make the final three-minute video the students recorded two hours of interviews that show the conflicting views of those whose job it is to regulate permits to fish and the fishermen whose livelihoods are affected by regulation.

Ms. Cook remarked on how impressed she was with the students’ efforts. “The combination of individual skills and a cooperative spirit really utilized student independence in making a better whole. Their professionalism was notable in many places in the project, from setting up and conducting interviews to the final edits of the video. They were so mature and proud to be representing APH.” Granting the first place award to APH, the judges remarked, “This video does a rare thing: taking economic theory and exploring how it relates to the world and real people. By doing so, it shows the value of economic theory and also its limits. The filmmakers have left the comfort of their textbooks and spoken to real people about real issues. It makes an excellent case for taking economics outside the classroom.”

The challenge helped the students understand the topic better: “When I heard about the issue I was very pro-regulation: you have one planet and you have to save it. When you hear that these regulations affect someone’s livelihood, you realize it’s not as simple as you thought,” Trzcinski says. “I don’t think we could have read about it in a textbook and understood it the way we do now,” Atkins adds.

Watch the winning APH video above, and learn more about the challenge and how APH’s winning video was made here.