COURTESY OF BRANDI BOATNER
From left: Daniel Jung, Skyler Furr, and Kalei Eury.
And the winners are ...
Hawaii SMS participants learned a valuable lesson about how to improve their financial well-being
Sharon Inouye's eighth-grade students at Moanalua Middle School clearly understand the effects of the recent decline in the U.S. economy.
Given recent events in the Hawaiian economy, the students say learning about personal finance is more important now than ever before.
"I teach about 140 kids and I presented Hawaii SMS as extra credit ... and they all voted yes to participating in the program. I was so proud."
Sharon Inouye / Eight-grade teacher, Moanalua Middle School
Investing for their future has become a top priority for these students after participating in the Hawaii Stock Market Simulation and winning the competition, beating more than 720 students on 181 teams from 17 schools statewide in their division. The team known as Toys "R" Us includes Skyler Furr, Kalei Eury and Daniel Jung. They began the competition 10 weeks ago in nearly last place and rallied to finish as Hawaii SMS spring 2008 winners in the Elementary/Middle School division.
Hawaii SMS is a free 10-week statewide online stock market simulation offered by the Hawaii Council on Economic Education and funded through the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of the Securities Commissioner for students in grades three through 12 in both the fall and spring semesters. This spring, Hawaii SMS began on Feb. 11 and ended on April 18. Overall, more than 1,900 students on 757 teams from 47 schools statewide participated.
In Hawaii SMS, students receive $100,000 in 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. Although the money is fictional, the stock transactions are processed at real-world prices in real time.
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 winning team members will receive a $100 savings bond while the runner-up team member get a $50 savings bond.
The team members of Toys "R" Us said Hawaii SMS was a great experience because it helps teens learn how to manage their money and invest for the future. The students, who made their decisions as a team, admitted to purchasing certain stocks on impulse. The students said they watched CNN and other news programs to get an idea of what stocks to purchase based on the commercials shown during the programming.
In one instance, the team saw a commercial for the new Apple MacBook Air and purchased stock in Apple. Despite Apple's stock skyrocketing after the new product was advertised, the company did experience a loss and the team quickly sold their stock.
"One valuable lesson I learned is about the uncertainty of stocks," Jung said.
Upon learning the news that team Toys "R" Us had won, Eury's visiting uncle rewarded him with $20.
"I can't believe I can actually work with the stock market," Eury said. Eury's parents were so impressed with his accomplishment that they gave him $100 to start his own investment portfolio.
Jung also had very excited parents who were impressed with their son's investment knowledge and skills.
"My father taught me before about stocks," Jung said. "I now look at businesses differently."
The Moanalua students are getting real-life experience participating in the program and understand the value of financial literacy.
"Hawaii SMS is part of a bigger picture of personal finance," said Inouye, the Moanalua Middle School teacher. "The program provides the students with the skills they will need for their future."
Inouye was referred to Hawaii SMS by Tina Schaffer, who taught an investment workshop at Moanalua about five years ago. Inouye was interested in the stock market and decided to coach interested students in the program after attending several SMS teacher-training workshops sponsored by the Hawaii Council on Economic Education
"I teach about 140 kids and I presented Hawaii SMS as extra credit to their current benchmarks, and they all voted yes to participating in the program," she said. "I was so proud."
Toys "R" Us team members attribute their success to teamwork and cooperation. The three students are friends at Moanalua and agree participating in the competition with friends was fun and exciting. Upon entering high school next year, Toys "R" Us would like to continue participating in Hawaii SMS.
"Now that we know more about stocks, we can learn about bonds and research what to buy and what not to buy so we can win the high school division," the team members said.
"We are very pleased that Hawaii teachers are able to incorporate this valuable resource into their classroom activities," said Tung Chan, Hawaii Commissioner of Securities with the DCCA. "Congratulations to "Toys R Us" and to all the teams who participated in the SMS this spring."
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 from grades kindergarten through 12th grade 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 give people in the state the knowledge, understanding and skills to make informed choices in their lives and for their community.
Brandi Boatner is outreach coordinator for the Hawaii Council on Economic Education.