Miami, Florida,
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Challenging our Students

The Stock Market Games

When Jill and her 9th grade students began playing the Stock Market Challenge (SMC) in 1984, they used punch cards and weekly submissions to record their transactions on Commodore 64 Computers. Students wrote their own BASIC programs to track their stocks and generate portfolios. They couldn’t have imagined 30 years later students would still be playing the game – but this time on mobile phones and computers!

As the world moved from snail mail to the internet, so has the competition, and students have embraced the technology and applied it well. “When students are granted the privilege of taking their phones out in class, they truly stay on task - checking investments and calling on experts in the field” says Jill Bloom, 2014 Stock Market Challenge Advisor of the Year and Upper School Mathematics Lab Teacher at Scheck Hillel Community School in Miami.

Some of her former students still recall fondly their time in the competition. One of these students is Dr. Avi Jacobs, a cardiologist at Hillcrest Hospital in Cleveland where he is Director of the echocardiography lab. Dr. Jacobs played the games as a 7th grader during the stock market crash of 1987.

“The games were my first introduction to investing in the stock market” says Dr. Jacobs. “It established a good basic foundation that has allowed me over the years to know what to look for when investing in stocks and the risks involved with those investments”.

Jill’s son, Jeremy Weber, who played the game as a 7th grader in 2000, is now playing the Florida Stock Market Game with his math students at Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton, Fl.

“I remember how much fun I had playing the games while I was a student while at the same time learning how the financial markets work” says Jeremy Weber. “The games opened my eyes as to the importance of bringing real life financial education into the classroom that you cannot find in a textbook”. “I want my students to now have the same positive experience”.

Jill has utilized the SMC at all age levels. She has played the game with her students at the elementary, middle school and high school level.

The SMC is marketed as usable in many subject areas, not just finance or economics. Jill has also facilitated the game via social studies, computer programming and math courses.

“The games have given me better insight on how the stock market works and how you can easily make or lose money in the markets” says Justin Florin, one of Jill’s 12th grade students.

Many of Jill’s high school students are proud to include their years of participation in the games on their college applications. Having seen how the SMC games motivate and excites her students, Jill expanded the program last year to include not just her classes, but also the newly formed Investment Club.

“Evolving as global citizens, students become aware how the international news, business trends and personal wealth impact decision making - not only on a fiscal level, but also in every aspect of their lives,” said Jill, “The kids see that gathering, sharing and acting on this financial information will lead to taking control of the paths that their lives with take.”

Established more than 30 years ago, the Florida Stock Market Challenge gives K-12 students the opportunity to participate in an online investment simulation and manage a hypothetical $100,000 investment portfolio. Students throughout the state compete for the best portfolio performance and are awarded prizes at the end of both the fall and spring semesters.

This program is easily integrated into a variety of subject areas, including social studies, mathematics, and language art classes and is offered free of charge to all Florida teachers. Each May, the Florida Council on Economic Education (FCEE) recognizes an outstanding Stock Market Challenge Advisor in its annual Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Economics (GAP).

“We are thrilled about the commitment State Farm has made to financial literacy education and the Florida Council,” said Suzanne Costanza, Director of Programs for the FCEE. “State Farm’s sponsorship means that literally thousands of students will have an opportunity to learn about our country’s financial markets and economic system through participation in this exciting simulation.”

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