Sixth grade students’ investing project combines math and research to learn real world skills.
In Mr. Paul von Saman’s sixth grade math class, students have become familiar with the ins and outs of the stock market through an innovative stock market simulation game. Using stocks the students recognized including Chipotle, Tesla, and Lululemon, he began each class period with a “Stock Story” aimed at teaching about a particular company and how to recognize the potential positives and negatives around investing in its stock. Mr. von Saman also introduced investment strategies of pop culture figures such as Serena Williams and Shaquille O'Neal, whose portfolios include companies owned by or serving underrepresented populations.
Classes were introduced to the basics of bonds, mutual funds, securities, and their subsequent risk levels to prepare the students with basic terms and concepts of the investing world. They learned how to properly research potential companies, and then began investing with $10K of fictional money.
Once they started investing, students kept balance sheets showing the profits and losses of each stock as they grew their portfolio. Throughout the project, students relied heavily on their math skills to maintain accurate records, utilizing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in their accounting.
“My goal for this project was simple,” said Mr. von Saman. “I want to show my students how important it is to start saving for retirement as soon as they get their first job to reap the benefits of compound interest. I shared this quote with them from Robert Kiyosaki: ‘Each dollar in my asset column was a great employee, working hard to make more employees’ and used that idea to show them the benefits of long-term investments. It is a great unit, because we are using math in many different ways, and increasing their financial literacy at the same time.”