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Robert Wray, a fifth-grader at Oglethorpe Point Elementary, spent many Saturdays this school year watching early morning business talk shows.
Robert tuned in to hear talk show hosts’ discussions about the fluctuations of the New York Stock Exchange.
He would then return to school each Monday and confer with his teammates in the Georgia Stock Market Game. They would strategize about which stocks they should buy and sell in their own imaginary portfolio.
“And I had this app on my phone and I was tracking all the stocks that we bought,” Robert said.
Lee Malone, a part-time teacher at Oglethorpe Point, sponsored a Georgia Stock Market Game in her class last fall, offering her students a real-life game simulation of the workings of the stock exchange.
And Robert, along with his teammates Addison Whitworth-Leonard and Chris Roddini, went the extra mile in the competition, quickly surpassing the other teams in their class.
The three boys ended up winning the regional competition in the Georgia Stock Market Game for Fall 2016, and they returned last week from a trip to Atlanta for a winners’ luncheon that included students from around the state.
“I was impressed with their outside of class work,” Malone said. “That’s going above and beyond, and I was glad their interest was enough that they wanted to learn more. And I think it paid off.”
For the game, every student-team was given a theoretical $100,000 to spend on the stocks of their choosing. The students spent two months tracking their stocks and deciding when to buy and sell, aiming to make a profit at the end of the game.
Robert, Chris and Addison ended with $104,487.
“We did a lot of research on what stocks we would like,” Addison said. “We learned how to buy stocks and sell them. We basically learned economics, mostly.”
The boys began with the strategy of purchasing the top-name brands familiar to most. But that backfired quickly.
“We actually were in last place at first, and we had all the popular things, like when you think of name brand stuff,” Addison said.
The boys had purchased stock in Nike, Amazon, eBay and Apple.
“But those weren’t doing as well,” Robert said.
So they decided it was time to take a few risks, purchasing random stocks that research showed may bring a profit. And that decision proved to be a smart one.
“Like, in the fall, people normally travel to Washington and some other places to see the trees,” Robert said. “So we invested in an airline company, and that was one of our best ones.”
The stocks all correlate with the actual trends of the New York Stock Exchange, and the students learned how current affairs can directly affect the stock trends.
“Everyone was surprised how Apple was losing money,” Robert said. “And we were all pretty sure that is was because when the iPhone 7 came out, they put a bunch of money into it and nobody bought it because the (iPhone 6s) were good. So that was our conclusion on why it didn’t do as well.”
Faye Barnett, the instructional coach at Oglethorpe Point, said the lesson provided the students with a real-world learning experience.
“The economic standards in social studies, of course, this covers every one of them, plus more,” she said. “They’re connecting those cause-and-effect relationships in our world … They’re using every skill — they’re using their math skills, their technology skills … lots of language, lots of communication skills.”
And Malone said it’s a unique educational opportunity that few students have.
“It’s something that they really aren’t that familiar with,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to find things that they have not done, and this is one that kind of fills that requirement.”