Students take stock in program

Fifth grade teacher Rick Bell, left, answers a question from Angela Muphy-Friendshuh. The teacher at Falcon Ridge Elementary School in New Prague is teaching his students math skills through use of the stock market. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

What would happen if a fifth grader had one million dollars and was instructed to invest in stocks? Rick Bell’s 29 students will find out how they do over the next 10 weeks, although they will be using fictitious money.

The fifth graders at Falcon Ridge Elementary School in New Prague began the stock market program on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Bell explained the exercise is an extension for his students’ math curriculum.

To help them understand about the stock market, John McFarland of Ameriprise Financial in New Prague spoke to the students on February 26. Using websites such as www.freestockcharts.com and Yahoo Finance he showed how stocks on Dow Jones and for Target and Chart Industries go up and down. He explained that when stocks are down is a good time to invest and when up is a good time to sell the stocks. He encouraged the students to try things on their own during the 10-week period.

During that time, each student gets a "mythical one million dollars" for their investments. Bell said they will track the stocks over the next few weeks.

"They get really excited," he said, adding that he designates one day each week to check the stocks. If he didn’t the students would want to be checking the stocks nearly every day.

There are prizes, including which student made the most money or lost the least amount. "We’ve had it go both ways," said Bell about the program, which is in its sixth year.