Cashing in, local high schools students get taste of the market

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TEMPE - We report the stock market numbers every day, but do they mean anything to you other than it's up or down?

Most of us have a 401K or some other retirement plan holding stocks or funds, but rarely do we take a class or have a teacher who explains how it all works.  Thursday, local high school students received some hands-on training on what it’s like on the floor of an exchange.

“3, 2, 1,” the entire room chimed in as a small bell rang.

It was the start of another round of trading.  In a world where almost everyone has contact with the stock market, these high school students got a real life lesson.

“Where are we at?” one student asked his team over the noise in the room.  “What do we have?”

There were 400 plus inside a ball room at the Biltmore Resort, yelling, calculating, and watching as they tried to win the Stock Market Challenge.

At table twelve, we found the “Penguin Dancers” from Corona del Sol High School.  They were making money and in third place by the middle of the day.

“It's surprising that it's so intense,” said Vince Quintana.

“We have two people looking at the stock board making sure we're looking at the right stocks,” explained Gabe Encinas.

The teams of four work together to gather information on companies and determine demand.
Gabe Encinas said if they wait too long, the price is too high.

“At the table next to us, they start buying stocks that stock is going to go up,” Encinas explained.  “We'll buy in and as others see it going up, people might want to buy it.”

It is a simple concept where the quick use of math and analysis separates winners and losers.

“It's not often we see them so engaged in the learning process,” said teacher Michael Lohmann.  “And this is one of the funnest activities I do all year with students.”

“Because it's about money?” I asked.

“I think that has a lot to do with it,” he said.

The goal is to help students understand investing in a new way, so they make educated decisions as adults.

Junior Achievement of Arizona holds the Stock Market Challenge every year.