Stocks contest one for the ages
The Salt Lake Tribune
Nov. 30, 2007
7th graders test skills against college students
By Brianna Lange
Westminster College honors students are about to find out if they are better at picking a winning stock portfolio than is a group of seventh graders. On Friday, 19 seventh-grade students from the personal finance class of Rowland Hall-St. Mark's School and eight Westminster honors students attended a crash course in investing at Westminster to kick off a competition between the two groups to see who invests more wisely.
The seventh graders were split into seven teams, and each group was given $1 million virtual dollars to invest. The teams' earnings will be averaged at the end of January and compared to the college students' earnings.
"Congratulations, you're all millionaires," said Ryan Hessenthaler, the director of Westminster's Center for Financial Analysis, who delivered the lesson in investing.
The students then broke apart into their groups to choose their stocks on an investment simulator site, investopedia.com.
The competition was organized by Richard Badenhausen, a professor at Westminster and director of the honors program, whose eighth-grade son is a student at Rowland Hall and took Principal Stephen Benhoff's class last year.
"It was a perfect marriage," said Badenhausen. "I expect the Westminster students to win, but I hope the Rowland Hall students win." Benhoff has been teaching the personal finance class at Rowland Hall for three years, but this is the first year the students will participate in simulated investing.
"They're at the point where they have enough worldly experiences to learn about money. They are starting to think 'What would I do with money?' and getting their first jobs," said Benhoff.
But, the seventh graders didn't seem to need much instruction. They answered all of Hessenthaler's questions about the stock market, and turned down help from Westminster's Finance Club President Isis Diaz, in choosing their stocks.
Seventh-grader Ariel Fuola said that her team took the season into consideration when choosing its stocks. "I'm thinking Starbucks would be good because people buy hot drinks this time of year," she said. "We were also looking at places where we shop, like Old Navy and Staples," said Bailey Kirby.
The seventh-grade team of Micah Matthews and Duncan Flint chose Microsoft, Freddie Mac, Amazon.com and Apple for their investments.
"We wanted the biggest ones," said Matthews.
Common stocks among the seventh graders were Apple, Google and Amazon.com, but the college students had a different approach.
"We're investing in oil, retail, blue chips and beer," said Robin Hill, a sophomore majoring in economics.
The end reward may be a greater knowledge of investing, but the students are most looking forward to see who will win because the loser has to buy the winner pizza.