Surprise schools sweep stock market game

Stock Market Game logo and Dysart Schools Logo

By Dysart Schools
Teams from Valley Vista and Willow Canyon high schools swept the top three spots in the 2023-2024 year-long Arizona Council on Economic Education Stock Market Game for the state of Arizona.

For the spring 2024 semester, two Valley Vista teams placed second and third in the state.

The Stock Market Game is an online simulation that allows students in grades four through 12 to interact in real time with the actual stock market without any actual money at stake.

Student teams are given $100,000 in virtual money to create a portfolio containing stocks, bonds and mutual funds. They must decide what to invest in, when to buy and sell, and which risks to assume, all in the name of making a profit. Incorporated into economics courses, high schools across Arizona compete in both semester and year-long games to see who can make the most virtual equity.

This school year, Mitch Pinda from Valley Vista had teams take first and second place in the year-long competition, both with over $182,000 in total equity.

Willow Canyon High School was a close third with a team from Brandon Scholtz’s class racking up an impressive $177,064 in total equity.

For the spring semester, one of Chris Dodrill’s Valley Vista teams placed second with a total equity of $132,255. Fellow Monsoon Aimee Jensen had a team place third, trailing by a mere $212.

Students learned not only what stocks are, but how to read a stock table, how to determine a stock’s volatility using its beta score, and the concept of “buy low, sell high.” It was then up to them to conduct their own research using various stock-related websites, determine their risk tolerance, then consult with their teammates to decide not only where to invest their virtual cash, but also when and how much.

While there’s always an element of luck involved, the teachers all agree that the most successful SMG teams were the ones that put in the time and effort to do their research, monitor trends, consistently watch risky stocks for the right time to sell and reinvest when appropriate.

“We are pretty proud of the kids for what they accomplished,” Jensen said. “Most adults can’t actually tell you what the stock market actually does and why it is important. This is a life skill, and hopefully one that will help (the students) profit in their adult lives.”

SMG is a nationally available program of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation, and is presented locally by the Arizona Council on Economic Education, whose mission it is to teach Arizona students to be financially responsible.