On Feb. 10, 250 fifth grade students of the Avon Grove Intermediate School (AGIS) began their mathematics training on The Stock Market Game. The Stock Market Game is a national program that sponsors a competition throughout the country, in which students learn about the stock market through mock buying and trading.

"The program has given educators a way to improve the learning experience in thousands of classrooms," reads on-line organizational statement.

The program at AGIS is an eight-week financial literacy unit within students' math classes, according to a press release.

"The students are gearing up to participate in The Stock Market Game, which is an online stock trading simulation game. They will be competing with students across the state of Pennsylvania to build a portfolio of the highest net worth," Siobhan Leavy-Buttil stated in a press release. Leavy-Buttil is a teacher at AGIS who organized this year's program.

"I played myself in eighth grade, and it was a very memorable experience," she said.

The Stock Market Game isn't free, however. The cost of each team of three students is $15. There are eight teams of three students per classroom, and 12 fifth grade classrooms are participating in the program. Leavy-Buttil said she wrote letters to local businesses asking for financial assistance to help cover the costs of the program.

Within days she received a check from Herr's Company in Nottingham, Leavy-Buttil said.

During the first day of the student competition, two guest speakers, trained mathematicians, addressed the fifth graders. Gregg Perry spoke at 9 a.m., and Veronica Ruf spoke at 10 a.m., each to an audience of 125 students. The guest speakers spoke on issues ranging from future careers, finance, commerce, the stock market and economics.

"For me it's telling them... there's many, many opportunities," said Ruf. "The world is their oyster."

Ruff discussed with the students banking, insurance, and the stock market, real estate, computers, credit cards, research and finance.

Ruff asked the students to name careers in finance. She also asked students who were interested in becoming millionaires. Most students immediately raised their hands yes.

The backbone of the program is math skills, namely percentages, division and fractions.

"We're going to learn about researching companies and stocks, which support research skills and informational writing," said teacher Becky Rinehimer. "We're going to keep track of gains and loses, which will incorporate mathematics, and we're going to be working with fractions, decimals and percents within that."

Each group has been awarded $100,000.

"I think that's a good a mount to give them, it offers flexibility," said Rinehimer.

The Stock Market Game teaches the students real life experience and allows the students to work in cooperation while making decisions, Rinehimer said.

There will be a bulletin board at the main lobby of AGIS reporting gains and loses of each school participating in the state of Pennsylvania.

Most fifth grade students are excited to focus on the program.

"I think that this Stock Market Game will help me invest in future companies," said Kurt Schmidt. "I would invest in General Electric (GE) and Microsoft."

"All fifth grade teachers were offered the opportunity," Leavy-Buttil said. Teachers who choose to participate in the program had several training hours. For many teachers, there was a lot of learning involved during the training, Leavy-Buttil said.

In the classroom, the children who do well choose a stock and stick with it, she stated

Abercrombie and Finch, Dell Computers, Sony, Honda, and Harley-Davidson were some of the popular choices Leavy-Buttil saw in classrooms on Feb. 13.

Leavy-Buttil said that teaching the children the total magnitude of $100,000 dollars in conjunction with showing them the purchasing power of that amount helps them learn now the power of long-term investment.

For more information on The Stock Market Game, visit www.smgww.org.

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