The goal of this activity is to provide students with the opportunity to view Prosperity Region 5 (also known as the Great Lakes Bay Region (GLBR) consisting of Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland, and Saginaw counties) as a viable, desirable location in which to live, play, learn, and earn.  The intention is NOT to try to make choices for students, it is to encourage them to be informed individuals and make intelligent choices. After doing this activity some of them may still desire to live outside of the GLBR but they will be much more aware of the benefits of staying.  Understanding the impact of cost of living and its impact on location choices is a primary goal.

An informal survey of GLBR students ages 10-17 provides the foundation variables young people believe to be important decision-making information used to choose a place to live. Of course, other cities may be substituted.

Local student research indicates that, in addition to Career Opportunities, they consider Climate and Recreation as major variables in their location decisions.  Along with career opportunities, education and training for advancement will also be included to make their evaluations. Cost of living comparison and analysis is the new/looped learning to be added.

  • Local student research has been used to produce the list of desirable cities:

San Francisco, Phoenix, Nashville, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, New York City

  • Career choices are based on the Career Trading Cards produced by Great Lakes Bay Manufacturers Association (https://glbma.org/resources).
    • Accountant         
    • Chief Executive Officer
    • Computer Aided Design Technician
    • Computer Numerical Control Operator/Machinist
    • Engineer
    • Electrician
    • Factory Manager                   
    • Heavy Equipment Mechanic
    • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technician
    • Human Resources                                                   
    • Machinist
    • Information Technology (IT) Technician
    • Industrial Maintenance Mechanic
    • Marketing Manager
    • Plumber                           
    • Production Worker
    • Quality Coordinator
    • Quality Manager           
    • Shipping Coordinator
    • Welder
  • This activity is constructed, in part, as a Webquest.  Whenever reasonable, websites are provided as data sources. A Webquest is a great way for students to use valuable online resources without having to spend a lot of time searching (which can include a lot of distraction) and the provided websites have been pre-screened for acceptable content and accuracy of information.  Students often object to pointless activity ie. researching information that is already readily available. “WebQuests are designed to use learners’ time well, to focus on using information rather than on looking for it, and to support learners’ thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.” (https://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech011.shtml)
  • There are options for timing.  The foundation research, analysis, synthesis and concluding statement activity takes about 3 class periods. Adding the pre-knowledge activity is another class period.  Doing a presentation/sharing session with evaluation is another 2 class periods. 
  • Pre-work/pre knowledge

A Scavenger Hunt graphic organizer for students to gain some working knowledge of ideas presented in the Webquest is provided as a separate Google Doc.  1 class period working in partners or groups of 3.

TEACHING – done with the large class group    Day 1

Read through the Introduction and first paragraph of the TASK as a large group. The following process is repeated on Google Slides for initial project discussion and student use during their work.  As you read, ask students to demonstrate their understanding of the work of an Economic Developer, what is meant by the Great Lakes Bay Region, and what the Manufacturers Associations do.


Scenario:  2024. You have made some very good career ladder decisions.  While in high school you took business classes in addition to science, math and computer courses. You even made time in your schedule for CTE courses and an internship in Marketing.  Additional business coursework at Mid Michigan College with online coursework in Economic Development assured your passing of the Certification test. Now working as a certified Economic Developer (CEcD) for the Great Lakes Bay Region in Michigan you are in your dream job.  The opportunities to move upward in local, state or even national government are open to you!


You have been assigned to help the Great Lakes Bay and the Central Michigan Manufacturers Associations with a new campaign to bring business and workers to Michigan.  The manufacturers have provided you and your team (yes, you are so good you have a team!) with a list of needed workers. Now, it is your task to show them the benefits of choosing the Great Lakes Bay Region for a well-rounded, satisfying life.

So how will you sell this area?”   First step might be a survey: Why does your family choose to live and work in the Great Lakes Bay Region? “ 

Let students list any and all variables so they have input. They are likely to list government, climate, jobs, “good schools”, low crime rates, theaters, sports teams, “stuff to do.”

Then present the following as the modes (most often listed) of the local student survey (Local students were surveyed just as you were and the results were tallied resulting in the following responses most often given”):

  • Climate and Recreational opportunities
  • Educational opportunities (not selected by students but being linked to job opportunities.  Career Advancement usually needs training/education)
  • Job opportunities
  • Cost of living

Read through the second paragraph of the TASK 

You and your team know that you will be competing for work talent, desired employees,  with several cities that offer enticements to young families. You will compare the Great Lakes Bay Region with popular U.S. cities using the variables of salary and job opportunities, training and educational opportunities, cost of living, and climate and recreation.

As a large group:  “So, let’s look at what we have right here in the Great Lakes Bay Region to entice new workers to come here.

Focus on Climate, recreational opportunities and educational opportunities in your local area in a brainstorming session and classroom chart for everyone’s use in presentation preparation.  Include analysis of local Climograph from  https://www.usclimatedata.com/

Brainstorming Sample (done in groups, each marker color is the submission by a different group):

Now using this information to put together a “selling pitch” for the GLBR:

If you are having students do a presentation as a culminating/evaluation piece they can use this group work as a foundation for their comparisons to a city outside the GLBR.

TEACHING – done with the large class group    Day 2

What about cost of living?  What does that mean?

The cost of living is the amount of money needed to sustain a certain standard of living by affording basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes, and healthcare. (www.investopedia.com)

Use the website (https://www.salary.com/research/cost-of-living)  for use showing students how to compare a career in two cities.  Choose two cities not used for the activity such as Detroit and Anchorage.  Use the Plumber card from the Career Card set.

Enter the information onto the webpage.

And the heart of this lesson . . . Enter to see the results.  Discuss with students the large difference in the cost of living between Shepherd, Michigan and Washington DC. “Employers in Washington D.C typically pay 19.9% more than employers in Shepherd, MI, The plumber’s salary in Washington is higher but the cost of living is so much higher that the move would feel like a loss of over $21,000 per year.

It is fun to do some calculating of things students might be interested in and the differences.  

61.4% increase is calculated as 1.641 mathematically to represent 100% + 64.1% so  Shepherd price x1.641 = Washington DC price


concert tickets:   Shepherd = $35.00 x 1.614 = $57.44

10 pc. Chicken nuggets:  Shepherd = $4.49 x 1.614 = $7.25

Gallon of gas:  Shepherd = $2.49 x 1.614 = $4.02


Read through the PROCESS part of the directions. Present suggested data collection spreadsheet.

Each team will be assigned a popular city outside our region and two manufacturing careers from the deck of Career Cards to research and report on as a comparison to the Great Lakes Bay Region. Websites are provided for some of your research based on acceptable content and accuracy.  The focus on learning is on interpreting and using information NOT finding information.  Using each website and the worksheet provided compile data and information knowing you will have to compete with that information using local data and information.  Also, knowing that you will produce a short presentation, collect relevant pictures or other visuals as you research.

Assign each pair or group a city from the list provided in the Background.  Let each pair or group choose two of the Career Cards from the deck of Career Cards.

The rest of the Slides describe the process you have just been through, modeled, with the Great Lakes Bay Region . Now students are expected to use that process for their assigned city.  

Student Work Day    Day 3

Provide students with the learning targets.  A possible rubric is provided.

Students continue research and analysis.

Learning Targets:

Each student will demonstrate exposure to 2-10 different Careers in the Great Lakes Bay Region with related wage information and local educational opportunities to achieve those careers.

Each student will conduct research regarding potential income, non-income factors (climate, recreation and COST OF LIVING) that may influence career and location choice, and opportunity obtaining the necessary education or technical skills for advancement, for 2 careers in high demand fields, comparing these variables in two different U.S. locations.

Each student will construct and present an argument supported with evidence based on COST OF LIVING for living in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Each student will Informally assess the degree of visual overlap of two numerical data distributions with similar variabilities by analyzing climograph data from two locations.  Optional for EACH student


  • After listening the students will participate in activity indicating their understanding of that communication. ●
  • The student will verbally participate in communications with partner/group to organize work related to completion of the task.
  • The student will ask questions related to information or materials needed to complete the project.

Time management- 

  • The student routinely uses time well throughout the assignment to ensure things get done.
  • In the event that a student is absent or unable to complete his/her agreed upon assignments within the process, he/she will negotiate how that completion will take place with the group and the teacher.

Evaluation and Extensions

Possible rubric as a separate Google Doc based on Learning Targets.  Learning target 1 is achieved through sharing of group results. Suggested format is a Gallery walk with feedback stickers.


What new knowledge did you gain from this activity?

Students may very well find cities with cost of living lower than the GLBR (Traverse City, Denver, etc.) or they might find cities with higher cost of living but the salaries are so much more that the net gain is higher (Anchorage). This is a good opportunity to talk about crime rates, distance from family and friends and other variables not addressed in this activity.  The point being that choosing a place to live can be an exciting, dynamic critical thinking effort!

What careers and/or cities would you like to know more about to help with your own career decision?

Extensions:  Going Pro videos, Pure Michigan campaign videos, local city and county Chamber videos (ie Harrison)


From Michigan’s Career Development Model (Michigan Department of Education; December 2018)

Definition of Career Preparation:

During Career Preparation, high school students refine their career goals and the necessary educational preparation needed to be productive citizens in a global society. Various career preparation activities provide advanced/real-world experiences that help students link their career options and educational decisions. Students learn through coursework consistent with their career interest area, contextual learning, and Career Preparation while meeting academic standards.

The goal is to create learning opportunities that support academic rigor, knowledge and skill development, social emotional learning, and career preparation. Career Preparation activities assist students in their academic readiness, connect students to their Career Cluster of interest, and prepare them for high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers. Student coursework should be aligned with their academic, technical, and career preparation interests as they begin to develop their employability skills.

Target 6: Career Planning Engage Students in Course Planning and Continuing to Acquire Knowledge about Careers, Education, and Employment Opportunities

Suggested strategy: Class level/small group/individual exploration on career geographic demands, educational demands, job requirements (i.e. hours, salary vs hourly), regional cost of living, and resulting lifestyles

From the Michigan K-12 Standards for Social Studies (www.michigan.gov; June 2019):

Understanding economics — often referred to as economic literacy — is becoming essential for citizens in our national and increasingly interconnected world economy. Productive members of society must be able to identify, analyze, and evaluate the causes and consequences of individual economic decisions and public policy, including issues raised by constraints imposed by scarcity, how economies and markets work, and the benefits and costs of economic interaction and interdependence. Such literacy includes analysis, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making that helps people function as consumers, producers, savers, investors, and responsible citizens.

Economics:  E1 The Market Economy 1.1 Individual, Business, and Government Decision Making Individually and collaboratively, students will engage in planned inquiries to explain and demonstrate how individuals confront scarcity, and how market forces influence how they organize, produce, use, and allocate resources in its presence. 1.1.1 Scarcity, Choice, Opportunity Costs, Incentives – using examples, explain how scarcity, choice, opportunity costs, and incentives affect decisions made by households, businesses, and governments.

Economics:  E4 Personal Finance 4.1 Decision Making Individually and collaboratively, students will engage in planned inquiries to describe and demonstrate how the economic forces of scarcity and opportunity costs impact individual and household choices. 4.1.1

Earning Income – conduct research regarding potential income and employee benefit packages, non-income factors that may influence career choice, benefits and costs of obtaining the necessary education or technical skills, taxes a person is likely to pay, and other possible sources of income.

High School Social Studies Process and Skills Standard:  P1.5 Construct and present an argument supported with evidence.

6th grade:  E1.1 Individual, Business, and Government Choices Describe how individuals, businesses, and government make economic decisions when confronting scarcity or surpluses in the market economy. 6 – E1.1.1 Explain how incentives and disincentives in the market economy can change the decision-making process.

From Michigan K-12 Standards for Mathematics: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/K-12_MI_Math_Standards_REV_470033_7_550413_7.pdf

7.SP1  Statistics and Probability. Draw informal comparative inferences about two populations.

  1. Informally assess the degree of visual overlap of two numerical data distributions with similar variabilities, measuring the difference between the centers by expressing it as a multiple of a measure of variability. For example, the mean height of players on the basketball team is 10 cm greater than the mean height of players on the soccer team, about twice the variability (mean absolute deviation) on either team; on a dot plot, the separation between the two distributions of heights is noticeable.

Workplace Citizenship Standards:  Engagement, Communication and Time Management

Career Card Lesson

Career Cards Student Worksheet

Career Ladders SOM

Lesson Rubric

Live, Learn, Work and Earn: Make the intelligent choice

Scavenger Hunt Building Blocks of a Strong Foundation

Trading Cards Order Form