2 Steamboat 5th graders win big in ‘stock market’ | SteamboatToday.com

2 Steamboat 5th graders win big in ‘stock market’


Tyla Emerson won first place regionally in The Stock Market Game, which is an online platform that allows students to compete with virtual money based on daily changes on the stock market. (Courtesy/Robin Alt)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With $100,000 to invest, Tyla Emerson started researching what companies were involved in manufacturing one of the various COVID-19 vaccines.

“I started investing in companies like Johnson and Johnson and a couple others,” Tyla said. “They made me really decrease at first, but when the vaccine started coming out, I started doing extremely well.”

Fellow investor Jordan Neeley took a different approach, focusing on companies that made products she likes. She invested in Kroger and Kellogg’s because she likes cereal and made an opportunistic purchase of Disney World stocks when they were priced pretty low.

Tyla and Jordan are not with a new firm looking to take over the stock market from a mountain town in Colorado. Instead, they are fifth-graders at Strawberry Park Elementary School, and while the money they invested isn’t real enough to pay for college, it did win them top prizes with Tyla and Jordan placing first and second respectively in the region.

Jordan Neeley took second place regionally in The Stock Market Game, using a strategy of investing in things that she liked. (Courtesy/ Robin Alt)

Robin Alt, a teacher at the school who works with a pullout group of advanced students in math, decided to try out The Stock Market Game with her students for the first time this fall. The game is free and gives students their own account with a virtual portfolio and virtual capital to invest.

From the game’s online platform, students make their own decisions about which stocks to buy or sell and their profits or losses are tied to the daily triumphs and woes of the real stock market.

“We’re always looking for opportunities for students to do something new, understanding that they may fail, just to develop that perseverance,” Alt said.

Alt said students learned about the difference between a brand, a product and a company, what stocks actually are, how to read quotes and ticker symbols as well as why investing is important. But the game was also something that could extend a lesson beyond the classroom when students are in the hybrid model.

“Being in the hybrid model, I was looking for something that would possibly be engaging for them on their at-home days,” Alt said.

Both students said not only was the game something they could do easily at home, but it also made them pay attention to current events, trying to understand how the news could affect potential companies they were investing in.

“It not only taught us more about stocks and how we should manage them, but it also helped us pay more attention to what was going on in the world right now, so that we knew what was potentially going to do well or what was doing well,” Tyla said.

For Jordan, the game and work required to understand what investments she wanted to make also showed her what potential careers may be available in her future.

“I definitely learned how valuable money is, and mainly, I have been thinking about my future when I go through and research things, and I’ll see what each company is doing, and it kind of opens my eyes to what is out there,” Jordan said.

Alt said the game was such a hit with students, she plans to do it again this spring.

“The big thing is just looking outside our little community and thinking what is happening on a national level and how that affects the greater population and even us here in Steamboat,” Alt said.

The game, according to Alt, also has spurred discussions at home with parents, talking about the day’s news and the students’ investments.

Tyla said there is a lot more pressure this time around, since she did so well last time. She is not doing great so far, but she hopes things will rebound when the fallout from winter storms in Texas calm down.

Jordan hopes she will be able to capitalize on issues in Texas, buying stocks when they are down in the hopes they will increase when the state “thaws out.” But for each of them, they know they need to do their research.

“The stock market world is always, always, always changing, so it is kind of to anticipate what you think is going to do well and hope, because it is kind of a gamble,” Tyla said. “Don’t expect something, anticipate it.

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