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This Consumer Education lesson is on buying a car




9, 10, 11, 12  

Buy a Car
Grades 9-12

Project Title: Buy a Car
Subject: Consumer Education/ Family and Consumer Science
Description: A project requiring research, critical thinking and complex decision-making about an expensive consumer item–a car.

Question: What general factors enter into a buying decision about a vehicle? How can resources and a decision grid be used to make choices about a specific set of vehicles?


1. With the class brainstorm “all the factors to consider” when buying a car. Divide the ideas into logical categories. For example, body styles, frequency of repair, safety rating, condition, and fuel efficiency.
2. Assign individual students or teams to research each category. Internet sites to suggest:

1. Students create a decision grid on a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet will list possible vehicle choices vertically along the left side. Criteria to apply to choosing the vehicle are listed horizontally along the top.
2. Students search newspaper ads for new or used cars that might meet their criteria and select 3 or 4. Vehicles are listed along the left of the decision grid.
3. Then they are compared to the criteria that were selected for the horizontal axis of the grid. For example, they might use low mileage, powerful motor, and fuel-efficient. In the grid they record +’s or -‘s according to their rating of the vehicle.
4. Students consult with each other in the area of their expertise (which was developed during the research phase).

1. Each student writes a summary in word processing of his or her research findings and how they were used in the comparison of actual cars.

Tools: Internet, newspaper, spreadsheet, and desktop publisher

Analysis: Students will justify their choice of vehicle to their classmates citing how well the vehicle meets the criteria selected and how they used the knowledge gained from their consultation with a classmate “expert”.

Publication: Students create a collaborative list of buying principles using word processing or desktop publishing to share with each other and to be placed in the library for other students to take. A cooperative car sales business might allow them to be placed in their dealership.

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