COURTESY HAWAII COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION
Looking for investment advice? Look no further than the experts of the Hawaii Stock Market Simulation program. The DayDreamers team includes, from left, Uapili Lucy, Micah Maikui, Conner McKenna and Owen Daniel. They're all in Sanghee Fong's sixth-grade class at Manoa Elementary School.
Are you smarter than a sixth grader in investing?
Does your sixth-grader know which stocks to buy and which to sell?
For students in Sanghee Fong's sixth-grade class at Manoa Elementary School, maintaining portfolios has become a common practice.
Four students in the class are known as the Daydreamers -- Uapili Lucy, Micah Maikui, Conner McKenna and Owen Daniel -- and are currently participating in the Hawaii Stock Market Simulation program.
Hawaii SMS is a free 10-week statewide online stock market simulation offered by the Hawaii Council on Economic Education and the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of the Securities Commissioner for students grades three through 12 in both the fall and spring semesters. Hawaii SMS began Oct. 8 and ends Friday. More than 1,700 students from 42 schools throughout the state are participating in the program.
In Hawaii SMS, students receive $100,000 worth of virtual money to buy and trade stocks and maintain a stock portfolio. Teams research and evaluate companies and decide how they want to invest their cash. Students invest their hypothetical money and follow the markets throughout the semester and make their choices on buying and selling stocks. Although the money is fictional, the stock transactions are processed at real-world prices. The program is designed to encourage students to think about setting goals and saving the money they need to reach those goals. The program also introduces students to the discipline required to become successful investors.
The Daydreamers are currently in first place. At one point, the team's ranking was 85th, and although they admitted to having a bad week in the market, the team vowed to win the competition. Within one week, the team moved up to 10th place out of 684 teams and are now in first place. The students' coach is Manoa Elementary sixth-grade teacher Trent Takamiya, who coaches the entire sixth grade.
"The program gives the students a wonderful opportunity to see how the stock market works," Takamiya said. "It is so amazing to watch them do this on their own and get an understanding of real-life and the responsibility of managing money."
The Daydreamers are getting real-life experience and have been reading stocks and the business section of the newspaper so they know what stocks they should and should not buy. The Daydreamers have purchased stock in a variety of well-known companies such as Apple, Sony and Amazon. The kids say their parents are happy about their participation in Hawaii SMS and like the fact that their children are so knowledgeable about the stock market.
"At first, I didn't understand what my dad would do with his Apple stock. Now I understand why... and we can go over his stock portfolio together," he said.
The concept of teamwork is very important for the Daydreamers. Although they are competing as a team, they do not have a team leader. The students say they make decisions together because they are all equal and share equal responsibility for their performance. When deciding which stocks to purchase, the Daydreamers take a vote where majority wins.
"We want to win and think we have a good shot," said the students.
Teachers find that students are highly motivated by this program and have really learned from it, even as young as third grade.
Takamiya feels financial and economic literacy are important for students, which is why he wanted to offer his students the opportunity to participate in Hawaii SMS.
"We are so proud of the Daydreamers and the teachers who have brought SMS into the classroom as such a wonderful learning resource," said Tung Chan, Hawaii's commissioner of securities with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
Takamiya was referred to Hawaii SMS by Fong, who originally attended an SMS teacher-training workshop sponsored by the Hawaii Council on Economic Education two years ago and spoke very highly about the program. After seeing how Hawaii SMS worked, Takamiya felt it was a valuable tool for his students to become involved in. He encouraged his fellow teachers to participate in Hawaii SMS and currently all sixth-grade classes at Manoa Elementary are participating in SMS.
The Hawaii Council on Economic Education was founded in 1965 as a partnership among business, government, labor and education. The council's goal is to expand the economic literacy of Hawaii students in kindergarten grades K-12 by improving teachers' knowledge of economics and access to curriculum materials. By training teachers in economic and financial literacy, the council's vision is to have a state of Hawaii whose people have the knowledge, understanding and skills to make informed choices in their lives and for their community.
Brandi Boatner is the outreach coordinator for the Hawaii Council on Economic Education. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org