Students press their luck in the ‘stock market’
Playing the stock market can be risky and exciting.
But, Basehor-Linwood High School students mostly just found it fun. Especially because they were given $100,000 to invest as they saw fit.
A hypothetical $100,000, that is, for an online activity called The Stock Market Game played by students in Mary Myer's Personal and Family Finance class.
Sixteen teams of three or four BLHS students played the game, which parodies the real stock market, from Oct. 8 through Dec. 14. Not only did BLHS students compete against their classmates to see which team could gain the most on their initial investments, but with 185 teams total from high schools across the state and extending past state borders.
Myer, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, said she has been playing the game with her students for about five years.
"I tell them it's not a savings game, so by a certain date, they had to invest all of the money in some sort of stock," she said. "We just use it to learn about the stock market."
Lessons in class give the students a stepping off point before diving into the game. Myer said she goes over some basic principles of the stock market such as when a company makes an Initial Public Offering or a company's first sale of stock to the public. Current events and how they affect stocks are also brought into the classroom and Myer has the students list different companies, go on the Internet to find the ticker symbols and find out if they are publicly traded.
"Some years students really get into it and sometimes they don't," she said. "It does help when the market is good."
New rankings are posted each week on the wall of the classroom, and one BLHS team in particular found at the end of the two months that they had invested fairly wisely, gaining $17,922.42 and ranking first out of all 185 teams.
The winning team made up of juniors Ruth Bailey and Kyle Robinson and sophomore Thomas Dukeman, said that they only had a rough understanding of how the stock market worked before starting the game, but learned quite a bit as they went along.
"We looked up a list of ticker symbols and tried to find companies that had good patterns," Robinson said.
Bailey also said they tried to look for technological companies and those involving alternative energy sources because they noticed that those particular types of businesses had gained the most interest lately and were doing better in the stock market.
During class time, the students logged onto the game and kept an eye on their stocks, noting patterns, buying and selling. Bailey, Dukeman and Robinson invested most of their money in Google and JingAo or JA Solar Energy Holdings Co., Ltd. (JASO), a manufacturer of high performance solar cells based in China. At first, they said, they thought investing in Google might have been a mistake.
"At first it stayed really low and we lost a lot of money," Robinson said. "Several times we ended up nearly if not at the bottom of the chart."
But, soon their luck changed. During class, Bailey usually manned the computer, they said, while Robinson and Dukeman discussed different businesses they could invest in. They found that JA Solar Energy stayed fairly constant throughout the game, which contributed to their success while investing in a few mutual funds chosen from a list of the top 10 mutual funds was also key.
A stock tip to invest in Garmin given to the class by another teacher, which the team ignored, taught the classes just how unpredictable the stock market can be when those teams that accepted the tip plummeted. Another team that dropped drastically after investing all of their money in Wal-Mart also helped the students learn that just because a business name is recognizable doesn't mean its stock will do well.
"With most of them it's just up and down," Robinson said. "You can never tell what's going to go up."
The end results revealed that eight BLHS teams increased their value while six of the teams lost money, Myer said. One team lost as much as $24,423.40. The trio said towards the end of the competition, they thought they might be one of the top teams at BLHS, but never thought they would win the entire thing. The team did not receive a special prize for earning the top overall top spot, but Myers said those students who win the competition between teams within in the school always receive $20 each as a prize.
"That kind of motivates them," she said.
While $20 is nowhere near the almost $18,000 they gained playing the stock market, the students aren't complaining. Among the different activities and lessons they complete in class such as learning to manage money and balance a checkbook, they said The Stock Market Game was one of the most enjoyable.
"I think it was the most fun thing we did in class," Bailey said.
As for becoming real life stock market gurus in the future, the team said it's a possibility, but they are only confident in comprehending and answering questions about the basics at this point. However, playing the game did give them a starting point and a better understanding of how the stock market works.
"The biggest factor is intuition," Robinson said. "You can look at all the graphs you want, but in the end it's all a matter of luck."