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White Pine students learn about finances through stock market simulation


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IDAHO FALLS — Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) students at White Pine Charter School in Idaho Falls have been getting a real-time introduction to the workings of the stock market.

Using a Stock Market Simulator from the SIFMA“>Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, students from fourth- through 12th-grade participated in the simulation. The students were given $100,000 of play money and used actual, real-time information from the financial markets to make transactions.

The stock market game teaches students a wide range of skills that they can use to secure their financial futures but the learning starts before the game gets underway.

“Before starting the game itself, I do lessons about portfolios, about seasonal opportunities franchising, corporations, shares, all that,” White Pine GATE teacher Emi Walker told “And (the students) have a good idea and then when we start the game, they have to do their own research. They go to graphs and research stocks that are going up or down.”

The game gives the students a chance to test what they’ve learned against teams of students from across the state. Once the game starts, the students use what they’ve learned to make investments.

Because the stock market simulation used real-time data from real financial markets, students can find themselves in frustrating situations.

“Everything that happens with the stocks happens in real-time with the New York Stock Exchange,” Walker said. “So when they want to buy stocks in our time zone, sometimes they complain and say ‘Oh, Mrs. Walker. (Transactions) are suspended.” And I said ‘Yes, because the New York Stock Market is closed. You have to wait until tomorrow.’”

“Everything is real-time and the real price of the stocks now,” she added. “The fake part is the money.”

Success is determined by how much money the students make off their transactions, or in some cases, how little money they lose.

“I have groups that, it was bad timing in the stock market and they were losing a lot of money,” said Walker. “But this year, they got some profits and that was good. But there are years when I taught before that (student transactions) can go pretty red, and the ones that go less red end up being more successful.”

Walker had ten teams this year, two of which ended up taking first place in the middle school division of the state competition. In a press release, sixth-grader Perry Anderson, a member of one of the winning teams, described a pivotal moment in this year’s simulation.

“I researched GameStop and we invested in the very last day of the Stock Market game,” Anderson said. “The shares skyrocketed and we had a gain of $1K in one day.”

Walker said she hopes that playing the Stock Market Simulator will lead kids to pick up skills that will help them make money. She also hopes they’ll gain the skills to invest thoughtfully and responsibly.

“The SIFMA Foundation teaches, and I reinforce this in class, how to try to invest in green companies or companies that are concerned about sustainability, companies that are worried about the environment,” she said. “So the kids are not going just for the money, which is why a lot of people go. But they are going to corporations that are environmentally correct or that give back to the community. Going just because you want to make money is something we are trying to change in their minds and hopefully, they are going to invest in something that has to do with our future.”

You can find more information on the SIFMA Foundation and what resources they offer by visiting their website.