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Eclipsonomics: Resources For Econ Teachers

Science teachers are rejoicing for the flood of great resources available to teach a fascinating naturally occurring event Monday—the solar eclipse. But how can social studies teachers benefit? Large groups of people will be moving around the United States to try to get into the "zone of totality" where a complete blackout will be achieved. Economically, this event is having large consequences. Below are some resources for economics teachers to bring their lessons out of the dark.

For how the eclipse will affect areas and regions, towns within the zone of totality are trying to cash in on potential tourism, even hosting a countdown to eclipse day, reports CNBC. Some towns and cities have gone so far as to set up large viewing areas akin to music and arts festivals, making land lucrative for farmers to rent out. In even rarer cases, cities that have seen a decrease in population and are growing again have revamped talk of new infrastructure projects because of the recent influx, according to the Washington Post. The city of Grand Island, Nebraska estimates it could see a boom of nearly one million dollars to its economy!

With the explosion of powerful smartphones and the immediacy of media, businesses are able to market all manner of goods to consumers for the upcoming event, including glasses, clothes, preparations kits, etc. in an attempt to monetize the event. Even websites like Hipcamp, which offers campground booking are seeing a boost in the demand for services. On the other hand, some companies are feeling the pinch as their services are overly demanded, causing a shortage of product and even a backlash on social media. Some car rental companies are having a tough time making supply and demand fall in line with the number of people who want to rent a car to drive to an area within the zone of totality. Forbes magazine points out how companies must now manage immediate blowback from negative events to stem the tide of a future decline in sales. They're calling it the New Economics of Customer Service.  In a more positive sense, airlines are offering special flights to astronomers, eclipse chasers, and the generally curious. Many of these flights are already full!

In terms of energy and resources, Fortune discusses how with the advent of solar power and its growing influence on the electrical grid, governments are concerned about the how the blackout will affect electricity supplies. Enter natural gas, which in California is having to step in and ramp up production. The Economist weighs in on how solar grids will handle the supply disruption. For a more serious discussion, an economics paper from 2009 proposed how eclipses affect stock market returns due to the beliefs of the superstitious.  

Happy viewing, and remember to make rational and self-interested decisions, like wearing real glasses, not fake ones