For the past three years, Kelli Hammond’s eighth-grade history classes have learned valuable lessons using the Stock Market Game.
Since its inception in 1977, the Stock Market Game has helped almost 20 million students prepare for financially independent futures. Students are introduced to saving and investing through a simulation of the stock and bond markets and given their own virtual $100,000 portfolio to invest, according to the sponsor of the game, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation (SIFMA).
During the 10-week game, students team up to research and decide where they will invest their virtual money. They gain an understanding of how to trade stocks on the NASDAQ and New York Stock Exchanges, pay brokers’ fees and have the option of investing in bonds and mutual funds. Mrs. Hammond said she could just explain how the stock market works and its impact on society, but it’s not until students actually participate in the process that they gain a fuller understanding of the global economy and their role in it - all with fun and friendly competition.
Students research companies and draw on skills learned in all of their classes at Saint Bernard School to make the best financial decisions. As the teams plan their portfolios, students tend to select products they are familiar with, companies their family members work for, or businesses that represent something they are passionate about.
Mrs. Hammond said one year a team invested in a pet food company because they were passionate about animals. Other teams have invested in green energy projects or Tesla. This year a group invested in GameStop, which brought them to the top of the board and sparked a discussion about short sales.
Students Zach Pazzaglia and Raymond Zhang are excited about their stock trades and said it’s cool to learn about stocks and become confident about their choices. Mrs. Hammond tells students to research the companies from which they want to buy stock and not to just think about what will make them the most money. When a team has questions about a purchase, she reminds them to be aware of the ethics of the company they are investing in and to ask themselves if they support those values.
In Connecticut, 250 middle and high schools are competing for awards and prizes. Currently, two of the Saint Bernard School teams are ranked first and second for middle school and 13th and 14th overall.
“Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether your stocks are going good or the stock that you invested in was a good choice,” eighth-grader Kiely Flores Nahue said. “Even if you do your research on the stocks you invest in it could always go the other way.”
By Kimberly S. Hodges