Education feature: Students trade virtual stocks

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Gifted and Talented students Karly Wells, left, Nathan Dunagan, middle, and Logann Ewers look over their virtual portfolio with teacher Rene Hedeman.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Each of the seven students in the small room had a job to do.

Two were researching a mutual fund, one was taking notes from the meeting, two were making a graph charting gains and losses and two others were researching stocks.

The only questions they had for their teacher were about why the Wi-Fi connection was running slow.

The group of sixth grade Gifted and Talented students at Zia Elementary School were playing a game through New Mexico State University. They were given $100,000 of virtual money to invest on a virtual replica of the stock market while competing against other groups in the state.

Gifted and Talented teacher Rene Hedeman said the game is a learning process.

“These are high ability learners. They are applying things they’ve learned in the classrooms to real life situations,” Hedeman said.

The teacher said teachers have the opportunity to do a variety of projects with the gifted and talented students. She suggested the stock market game and the students were into it from the beginning.

“I love how excited they are about it,” Hedeman said. “They’re highly motivated. It was a great opportunity to do something different that is weighted academically. And I wanted to do something they can use for a lifetime.”

The goal for the game is to invest and maintain a diversified portfolio from Oct. 5 through Dec. 11. Students can win by having the highest dollar value on the last day or from the highest percentage return.

Hedeman said gifted and talented projects are intended to go above and beyond the work done in the classroom.

“It has to be something different and to focus on high-level thinking skills,” she said.

Group captain Nathan Dunagan and co-captain Logann Ewers said they are in charge of keeping the group on track in the game. They also research which stocks and mutual funds would be a good buy for the group.

“I like learning how to do this stuff and I’ll know the terms for the rest of my life,” Dunagan said. “ Then when I grow older, I won’t have to relearn it. I will already know how to use the stock market.”

Treasurer Karly Wells said she enjoys the research.

“I like to see what’s going on. It really helps you make the best decision. When we get older, we’ll know how to research and not just buy and maybe lose money,” Wells said.

Ewers said she loves making a trade.

“When you make a trade, you are truly excited. We don’t know how it’s going to come through, like if you’re going to make a lot of money or not,” she said.

The group must agree unanimously before buying or selling. Each student researches and selects one company to invest in and follow throughout the game.

The students learn how to read ticker tapes for various companies, how to get real time stock quotes, and about Wall Street investments.

If the team, called Stocks R Us, wins, they will be awarded a $50 savings account each.