Collingwood Excels at Harvard

On March 31, 2016, Ms. Karcz, Mr. Shirkoff and 8 AP Economics students headed to Boston to participate in the Harvard Pre-Collegiate Economics Challenge (HPEC) at Harvard University. At this annual economics competition organized by the Harvard Undergraduate Economics Association (HUEA), Collingwood, as the only Canadian school, competed against 29 other schools and 47 teams from all over the United States.

This trip was a great opportunity for students to expand their economic knowledge far beyond the AP curriculum, understand economic history, and analyze current economic situations as well as to demonstrate their economic knowledge. This year, I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to participate in the competition with a group of highly motivated, and diligent students. The eight students were divided into two teams: Collingwood A (Samir D. ’17, Graeme B. ’17, Eva C. ’17, and myself) and Collingwood B (Jason L. ’17, Armun G. ’17, Ann Z. ’17, and Alexa T. ’16), and shortly after the winter break, Ms. Karcz and the two teams began holding weekly meetings to plan and prepare for the upcoming competition. Under Ms. Karcz’s guidance, students have mastered both AP Micro- and AP Macroeconomics curriculums prior to the competition day, and have done extensive research on economic statistics, economic history, current financial events, and numerous economic models and theories.

On the day before the competition, students visited Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), attended the admission presentation at Harvard University, and visited many historical sights of Boston. After much of the tourist activities during the day, at night, students spent much of their time reviewing, and preparing for the next day, the competition day!

The actual competition day on April 2nd, was a long, but exhilarating day. In the morning, students wrote a multiple choice exam, and in the afternoon, the two teams were sent to their designated classrooms to compete in a series of quiz bowls against other schools. Each round of quiz bowl consisted of 15 questions and 15 bonus questions. For instance, the question would ask Identify this legally mandated value, whose impact David Card and Alan Krueger analyzed in a landmark 1994 study by phoning hundreds of New Jersey and Pennsylvania restaurants. Can you guess the answer? The correct answer is minimum wage.

Apart from the actual “competition,” the essence of the competition was the presentations, or brief lectures given by the two famous Harvard professors and economists, Gregory Mankiw and Benjamin Friedman. Their speeches regarding topics such as income inequality, economic well-being of the United States, and technology were absolutely fascinating.

As much as it was a new and enjoyable experience for the students, the teams performed extremely well in the competition. Team Collingwood A finished with the highest team average score on the multiple choice exam, and entered the octofinals in 4th place of 47 teams, many of which were competing for their second time. Ms. Karcz and Mr. Shirkoff were both very proud of the two teams for their effort, devotion, and performance at the competition.

This trip only made me more excited to continue to explore the world of economics in the future, and if I have the chance, I would love to attend again next year. Many other students would agree, as Eva Cai ’17 says, “It was a great learning experience that opened my eyes not only to economics, but to current global events.”

By: Sol Lee

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