From sports to band to drama to debate to robotics and more, there is no shortage of ways for high schools to compete with one another. You can now add another one to the list: stock trading.
The second annual Stock Market Challenge, put together by Junior Achievement of Miami, pitted 270 students from eleven high schools against each other. The kids were buying and selling, keeping their eyes on the ticker, listening for financial news updates, just like they were in the trading pits of the New York Stock Exchange or the NASDAQ.
"Every time one of our stocks goes down, I get a heart attack," one student from Southwest Senior High said, as the frantic trading was going on around her.
Each team had a fictional pot of money, one million dollars, to start the competition, and all the students were tutored in advance by expert volunteers. Educators call this a perfect example of project-based learning.
"Taking students actually to realistic scenarios and let them interact as the professionals they will be very soon, is the best way to learn," said Miami-Dade Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho. "If we teach them the principles of financial literacy, they will avoid the pitfalls that many adults currently today are facing."
The Challenge was obviously fun, with a dose of pressure. There's an intense amount of teamwork involved in deciding which companies to invest in at the right time. Every group was gunning for victory, but the most important takeaway for the kids is the experience itself.
"We hope they'll go back to their schools with a fabulous understanding of the market, recognizing how news impacts the values of the companies and that they will recognize the importance of becoming financially literate and how decisions and consequences can either make a portfolio or break a portfolio," said Cathy Haga, president of Junior Achievement of Miami.
At the closing bell, the team from Southwest Senior High School won the championship and the trophy and prestige that goes along with it.
The teachers who were involved in the Stock Market Challenge say the investment in time will pay dividends for all the students.