An annual and beloved tradition in the Academy’s Middle School, the 2017 Stock Market Game™ (SMG) began this week!  According to the website of the SIFMA Foundation, the organization that organizes the game, SMG is “an online simulation of the global capital markets that engages students in 4th through 12th grades in the world of economics, investing, and personal finance, and prepares them for financially independent futures.”

The game is played for 10 weeks, during which students are given an imaginary $100,000 to invest — students may decide to invest some of the money, all of the money, or they may borrow additional funds to invest in the stocks they select.  Students are placed in groups of three or four and they research which stocks they would like to purchase.  Some students choose products they like, others use the alphabet and pick a stock based on the first letter of their first name, and others discuss their choices with relatives or stock brokers.  Imagine, randomly picking a stock by the letter of your first name and finding out that you are in first place for the region after Week One!

I have seen many scenarios over my 18 years of facilitating the game.  The game is currently computer-based, but in 1999, it was a paper game with bubble sheets to complete and postmarks to deal with!  How things have changed.  Results were tabulated weekly at that time, and today, results are tabulated daily.  Today, most students have their portfolio picks on their phones and can readily check to see if the market is up or down.  Students learn about the stock exchanges — New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market — and to diversify their choices using sectors. They use Google Finance and Yahoo Finance for research and finding ticker symbols.

SMG provides students with decision-making skills when choosing a stock and how much money they will invest in the stock.  I find it interesting that students spend fewer dollars hoping that the money they do not invest will earn more interest than the money they would earn on their stock picks.  Some students have seen large losses from terrible choices, and they prefer not to lose their money.

I enjoy sharing my own stock market-related stories, too.  I’ve told them about my choices (good or bad) to include terminology of splits, reverse splits, IPOs, and selling a stock early at $100 per share when today that stock is currently over $800 per share.  Last year, I shared a video clip from when my son attended the Nasdaq closing bell ceremony with the York Water Company on the anniversary of their 200th year as a company.

If you are a Middle School parent, please take time to ask your son or daughter about SMG and his or her weekly ranking.  The students learn so much from this experience, and I enjoy the project each year.  Best of luck to everyone — I hope you have great portfolio picks for 2017!

Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.