Economics classes invest in simulated Wall Street

  One website transformed economics classrooms into Wall Street overnight.

  Students in economics classes are getting a taste of the stock How The Market Works which is being utilized in senior social studies classes including economics teacher Matthew Gerber’s honors classes with only grades at risk. 

  “The virtual game allows you to participate in stocks without trading real money,” Gerber said.

  The website offers participants a free, virtual clone of the stock market made for usage as a teaching tool. Players are given an initial imaginary gift of $250,000 to start their virtual stock-trading journey. Despite being free of any real-life risks, the website’s simulator is still as volatile as the actual stock market. This has led to unexpected highs and lows for participating students.

  “One day you’re up,” senior Justin Knelsen said. “One day you’re down.” 

  How The Market Works is available online throughout the day, allowing students to view their stocks. The website follows the actual workings of the stock market, forbidding sales and purchases during certain periods of time. The real life features combined with the turbulence of the actual stock market have acquainted students with the ups and downs of the market.

  “It’s a decent site,” Knelsen said. “It does lag behind, so you could cheat if you wanted, but otherwise it’s a good site.”   

  Seniors in Gerber’s classes are grouped together in the contest that records each student’s financial progress on a leaderboard. The rankings on this leaderboard are constantly shifting, surprising students as their positions begin to change rapidly.

  “I’m very surprised,” senior Natasha Fehr said. “I’ve been in the top five for so long now, and I’m just waiting for when I drop to last.”

  The actual stock market itself has already seen a fair share of incidents since the seniors’ game began on Jan. I. One of these was the rapid rise and fall in the price of certain stocks affected by hedge funds like GameStop and AMC. This event affected student’s stocks.

  “For me, it’s been working in my favor,” Fehr said. “I invested a lot of money in GameStop.” 

  The simulated lesson can help students refine their understanding of the market and their financial literacy. Knelsen has even developed his own wisdom to succeed in the stock market.

  “Never be afraid to take risks,” Knelsen said. “If you see something that looks good, take it while it’s good. Otherwise, it might be your biggest regret.”

  However, Fehr cautioned that tactics used in the virtual game may not apply to actual stock trading.

  “Taking risks might not actually be that helpful in the real stock market,” Fehr said.

  Fehr’s initial strategy was to invest in stocks randomly.

  “I was absent when he first explained it, so for me I was just investing in random things,” Fehr said.

  Gerber said he hopes that students will learn from this assignment.

  “I hope students learn a little bit about how the stock market works,” Gerber said, “as well as gain an understanding for corporate business models.” 

  In Gerber’s class, the game will continue until the end of the semester. Students will ultimately be graded on their performance in the stock market at various intervals. However, for those who are not talented at trading, the game offers alternative assignments to bring up grades.