Content Partner

Grade 9-12

Public Goods and Asteroid Defense

Time: 45 mins,
Updated: December 28 2020,


Students will be able to:

  • Understand the characteristics of public goods.
  • Be able to explain why asteroid defense is unlikely to be provided by the private sector.
  • Be able to explain why markets on their own cannot allocate public goods well and why that is a problem.
  • Understand the principles of rivalry & non-rivalry, as well as excludability & non-excludability as it relates to the types of goods.
  • Be able to identify examples of goods and services that are rival/non-rival as well as excludable/non-excludable.
  • Understand the different types of goods, including private goods, club goods, common goods, and public goods.
Open Lesson

In this economics lesson, students will learn about public goods.


The subject of public goods is best taught with examples. But why start with the same old examples, like national defense, which put students to sleep? This creative lesson plan jump starts with the (surprisingly real) danger of an asteroid hitting the earth! If this is such a real danger, why aren’t we better prepared for it? The answer is that asteroid defense is a public good. The lesson plan then uses a mix of unique examples, videos, podcasts, and a fun classroom activity to cover the four types of goods: public, private, club, and common.