Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Ricks Center students earn big bucks in stock market game

Wall-streeters had better take notice — some “small” streeters are ready to take over the market.

They may only be in grade school, and some may call them “small” businesspeople, but when it comes to picking stocks, they know what they’re doing.

A group of elementary school students at the Ricks Center for Gifted Children at the University of Denver recently earned a whopping $39,511 after 10 weeks in the stock market. The windfall earned them first place in the elementary division and sixth place overall out of 1,105 teams competing the Post-News Educational Services’ stock market game this spring. 

Of course the money is pretend, but the lessons are quite real. 

“They absorbed and applied a lot of sophisticated information,” says Gay Carlson, a teacher at Ricks Center. “They also learned that the market fluctuates.”

This is the 20th anniversary of the stock market game, which lets fourth through 12-grade students in all Colorado school districts invest an imaginary $100,000. Organizers say it helps improve math, social studies, economics and language arts skills. 

So what kind of stocks do kids pick? Nintendo, Apple Computers, Mattel, Kellogg, Hasbro, Google and Coca-Cola among others.

They didn’t choose just based on brand names; they did their research. Two students, Max and Sawyer, say they bought stock in Coca-Cola because when they watched people at soda machines, they mostly bought Coca-Cola products. 

“The rest we bought because they were doing well on the charts at, and the trends were going up,” says Sawyer.  

Avery and Sophia say they read company reports, checked earnings’ graphs, and perused stock ratings. “Then we decided if we wanted to invest in the company,” Sophia says. 

Despite the research, some students took their lumps. Addie and David say some of their stocks lost money. “One reason was that one of the companies we bought stock in was sued,” Addie says. 

Nevertheless, Carlson says they learned some key lessons, and perhaps Max and Sawyer summed those up best and most succinctly: “Buy low, sell high.”

[Editor’s note: Ricks Center students are identified by first name only at the request of the school.]

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