How does a 54 percent annual rate of return on investment sound? That was the pace Marion fifth-graders in Shannon Cooper and Sarah Tolessa’s classes set during a 10-week stock-picking game in the fall.
Starting with $100,000 imaginary dollars, students selected stocks based on what they expected would do well around Halloween and during the Christmas shopping season. Among the stocks they chose were Amazon.com, Apple, Cato (a women’s fashion company), Mattel, Samsung, and Walmart.
Student Skylar King said her group chose Cato because its price had been steadily rising during the year. Chisholm Waner said her group chose Samsung because it also had been growing steadily and because they expected demand for smartphones around Christmas to drive the price even higher.
In the first week of the project, the group’s picks had lost value, and they were in second-to-last place out of 62 teams in the region, Cooper said. By the next week, though, they had rebounded and were in first place. The Marion students stayed near the top for the rest of the project, finishing in second place and winning backpacks and T-shirts.
King said the stock the students chose that had the poorest performance was Apple, which taught her that a stock with a high price to start won’t always keep going up.
Overall, the $100,000 virtual investment turned into about $109,000, a 9 percent increase. Over the same time frame, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 7 percent, so the students beat the market. Projected over a full year, the students’ return on investment would be about 54 percent.
Before starting the project, the students learned about the basics of the stock market as part of small-group math lessons. Cooper said she hoped the students learned about the value of investing over instant gratification.