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Iowa students play stock market to learn finances
Siouxland schools
Playing the market

Iowa students play stock market to learn finances


SIBLEY, Iowa | Buy low, sell high and hope you get lucky.

Those are the tenets many Iowa students are living by as they attempt to game the stock market in a statewide competition.

Students from third grade through college are looking to earn bragging rights by making the largest profit off a $100,000 investment this spring. While the money and Wall Street trades are fake, students are developing real-life skills by researching companies, seeing how global events affect financial markets and using math to determine profit margins and trader fees.

Students also learned that buying popular stocks such as Apple is not always the best move for success. Apple, a popular technology pick among many of the students, has lost about 40 percent of its value after peaking at $700 a share in September.

“Sometimes big stocks are not good; they can take a lot of money off if they drop,” said Sibley-Ocheyedan fourth-grader Dakota Coleman.

His group was last in its class after losing $3,517 as of Wednesday.

The group is among 461 other teams participating in the contest, which ends Friday. The competition started in February.

The top three groups from each division in third through fifth grade, sixth through eight grade, high school and college will be invited to Dordt College, which is organizing the contest through its economic center. The winners will also receive some type of prize.

Bishop Heelan High School business education teacher Bill Thayer said the program is a great tool for teaching students how to invest and manage their finances. It also shows how the best laid plans can get shot down by an unpredictable global market.

In many cases, luck could be the biggest factor in success when trying to predict the whims of a global population.

“If you buy the right stock on the right day for the right price, you can make a lot of money,” Thayer said. “Similarly, if you buy the wrong stock on the wrong day, you can lose a lot of money.”

Heelan senior Tyler Trizila, who with partner Anna Ludwig was ranked second among high school teams in the state with $5,984 in profit, said he found luck and research were the key components to his success.

Trizila and Ludwig invested in Hershey Co., Air Lease Corp, Monster Beverage Corp. and Wynn Resorts.

“We went out and researched a couple of the stocks and we got lucky,” Trizila said. “I was shocked we are second.”

Mike Anderson, a fourth-grade teacher at Sibley-Ocheyedan, said he liked the program because it got students excited to study and participate in the stock market instead of reading about it in a book.

Anderson’s students rushed to their tablets on a daily basis to check on their stocks and compare results when it was time to discuss the game.

Students also kept up with global events such as lawsuits that could turn investors off from a stock, or the launch of a new product that could excite consumers.

“It’s such a real world application for math, and part of it is in the context of what’s going on in the world right now,” Anderson said. “The stock market is a reflection of real-world problems and factors.”


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Nate Robson is the education reporter for the Journal. He writes about issues impacting local school districts and colleges.

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Nancy Kay Coacher, 46, of Wentzville, formerly Sioux City, passed away Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, after a courageous battle with colon cancer.

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