Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The eBay Experiment (Math & Business)

The eBay Experiment (Math & Business)

This is the perfect project for the educator who is familiar with selling on eBay! Those educators who are not acquainted with selling on eBay can also use this project but they should either take precaution that the project goes smoothly and everything is accounted for or have their students go through the motions of the exercise without actually listing the items.

This project involves asking each student to pick one item from their home that they wish to sell on eBay. The student will snap their pictures, write their product description and calculate their profit. This experiment could easily reach across disciplines and act as a writing assignment in their English class. (It's a good idea to get a permission slip signed by their parents to allow them to sell this item).

What You Will Need

An eBay Account

Paypal Account

1 Product To Sell

Camera To Snap Pics of Product

Permission Slip From Parents to Sell Product

Activity Sheet (see below)


Students will bring in their product to sell. The teacher will help the student take a picture of the product from multiple angles, fill out a description of the product and calculate the profits based on the activity sheet below. Students will learn the basics of revenue and cost by selling an item, subtracting the shipping and fees (students will need to calculate these fees by using percentages). And finally, calculate their profit.


1) Setup an eBay and Paypal account (can use your own or set up one specific for this assignment).

2) Designate a camera to use for all pictures

3) Have students bring a product into class to sell (with permission slip signed to sell it)

4) Hand out the activity sheet below to each student while at their desk and have them fill it out while you walk around the room taking pictures of each product.

Note: You will have lots of pics in your phone, so you should have a system to categorize each product with each student.

5) Have students turn in their worksheets

6) Have students begin writing a description of their product on a piece of paper.

7) If available, have each student turn in their description paper to their English teacher to be edited.

8) After receiving back their edited descriptions, have student type each description up and email them to you.

9) Use all the information to list each item. I would make this a classroom project. Using an overhead projector or smartboard, I would have each student come to the front of the class and fill out the eBay template to list their item. This will teach them the basics of eBay while also showing off what they are selling.

Note: There is no real rush here. You don't need to do auctions, you could opt for a fixed rate auction and use their study hall time to fill out these eBay forms. Additionally, you could have other projects going on while each student comes up individually to fill out their form. Just give it some thought on how to maximize your time.

10) After the product sells, each student should fill out a profit statement where they subtract their costs from their revenue (see form below)

Added Notes:

1) To make things simple, I would narrow the shipping options to Small, Medium or Large flat-rate boxes. The costs for these options can be found via the United States Post Offices website.

2) To make things simple, I would limit the size of each item to that it fits in the small, medium or large flat-rate boxes. To be sure of this, I would swing by my local post office and pick up some free priority flat-rate boxes so that they have an idea of size.

3) Although not as fun, it would be a lot easier if the students went through the motions of this exercise but didn't actually list the items

Listing Sheet:

Name of Item______________________________________________________

Category of Item______________________________________________________

Listing Prices______________________________________________________

Estimated Shipping______________________________________________________


If Used, Tell About The Condition_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Profit Sheet

Total Revenue:

Listing Price ________(A)

Total Cost:

Shipping Price ________(B)

Listing Fee (0.10) ________(C)

Final Value Fee (5% selling price) ________(D)

PayPal Fee (3% selling price) ________(E)

Misc Costs (Avg of tape, packagin, etc) ________(F)

Profit ________(A) minus ________(B-->F) = _________ (G)


Jeremiah Dyke said...

Note, the calculations I used for fees may be slightly off. I rounded them for the purpose of making it easier.

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