By GTA Program Manager, Jeremy Yong
“Why are people afraid of stocks?”
The question hangs in the air, but after a lengthy spell of silence, the students at Game Theory Academy provide answers.
“I’m scared to lose my money.”
“I hate watching the stocks go up then down.”
“It’s too much like gambling.”
The first week of the alumni program this spring, the enduring silence from GTA students was not due to shyness or uncertainty. They were, for the most part, wholly unaware of the mechanisms behind the stock market. As the saying goes, “You can’t know what you don’t know.”
To change this, we created a simple stock market simulation, gave students a few choices and rules, then guided their virtual portfolios through the grind of real-time stock fluctuations for eleven weeks.
Through examining news articles and analyst reports, our class discussions sought to develop pictures of the individual firms and the flow of the market economy. They watched Netflix tumble, stumble, and recover. They wavered between choosing AT&T or T-Mobile. They witnessed the financial effects of world events like those between Russia and Ukraine.
Stock peaks earned cheers and troughs garnered groans as they trudged through the math calculations of how a percent change in stock price impacted their own portfolios.
GTA’s simplified simulation aims to demystify the stock market, to reduce its complex constructs for teenagers. By last week, the students weren’t Warren Buffetts yet, but they wouldn’t be lost amidst his advice.
Now, that’s real growth.