Richmond Students Win “The Stock Market Game”
Fifth-grade team takes first place against 151 Los Angeles-area teams
They finish 13th out of 1,885 teams nationally
By Dan Cray
If someone handed you $100,000 to invest in the stock market, could you turn a large profit in just ten weeks? The fifth grade math students from Richmond Street School in El Segundo did just that—albeit with virtual money—and produced the top two portfolios among fourth, fifth and sixth grade students throughout Los Angeles.
The students were playing The Stock Market Game, a national, classroom-based competition which simulates real-world investing in an effort to improve math skills and help kids understand the economic system. Richmond’s highest scoring team scored an equity gain of 7.9 percent, placing first against 151 teams in the Los Angeles region.
The winning team—Katie Keegan, Matthew Romero, Jacob Samia, and Yuvraj Singh—also ranked 13th out of 1,885 teams nationwide, a field that included public and private school participants ranging from fourth grade up to pre-collegiate level.
A second Richmond team recorded an equity gain of 6.5 percent, securing the runner-up position in the L.A. region. Collectively, the school’s fifth grade class ranked second among all fourth-fifth, and sixth graders in Los Angeles.
“The beauty of The Stock Market Game was the kids were learning real-world math while having fun,” says Stacy Feinbloom, a Richmond math teacher who introduced the game to the school’s students. “I was listening to them say, ‘this morning at breakfast my dad was showing me the paper and he was talking about how I should invest in this company.’ What a great breakfast conversation—these kids are only ten or eleven years old.”
In addition to Richmond’s team honors, student Nora Marchewka earned one of only ten honorable mention awards given nationally for an essay she entered in a companion contest aimed at inspiring language arts. The SIFMA Foundation, a non-profit educational organization that operates The Stock Market Game, honored Marchewka and the rest of Richmond’s winning students with a May 24 awards luncheon at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce where it was announced Marchewka placed first in the essay competition!
Under game rules, students started with $100,000 in virtual money and had to buy at least 100 shares of any stock they chose to purchase. They also had to sell at least one stock during the initial weeks, with all sales and purchases charged a virtual 2 percent fee. The entire New York Stock Exchange was in play at current rates, with the exception of stocks valued under $5.
Feinbloom’s students, divided into groups of four, spent portions of ten weeks using classroom iPads to monitor stock rankings, check trends, and choose the stocks they wanted to buy or sell. Students could log in to check their team ranking from home, but could not purchase or sell stocks without their group.
“They were so excited on stock market days,” Feinbloom says. “Part of the excitement was they used their background: ‘my dad works for Chevron,’ or ‘my dad rides a Harley, let’s take a look.’ That made it meaningful to them, and some of the group discussions were heated. At Easter some kids were saying, ‘we have to buy Hershey’s,’ but other kids were arguing, “But Easter is going to end, Hershey’s could crash.” Just listening to that conversation was fantastic.”
Richmond principal Dickie Van Breene credits Feinbloom’s enthusiasm and financial support from the El Segundo Educational Foundation for creating an opportunity for the school’s students to perform so well in the game.
“What a great way to teach financial literacy!” Van Breene says. “The students were so excited to learn more about the companies that make some of their favorite products, such as Apple, Hershey, Chipotle, and our neighbor, Chevron. This was a wonderful experience for our students.”
That experience extends well beyond mathematics and economics. Feinbloom, who plans on incorporating The Stock Market Game into her math classes again next year, says one of her students asked a parent to visit the floor of the New York Stock Exchange while traveling over spring break.
“I asked her whether she would have wanted to get to the floor had we not played the game, and she said she had never even heard of the Stock Exchange before we played the game,” Feinbloom says. “That tells you the difference this makes.”