The money they invest may not be real, but the stock market data they watch scroll across a new 20-foot ticker in the school library certainly is.

A finance lab was recently installed in the Carmichaels Area High School library to aid participating district students in a simulated stock market competition.

The lab is comprised of a “market wall” consisting of two 65-inch monitors and a 20-foot LED ticker that streams data for U.S. markets, such as world indices, energy, agriculture, metals, livestock, currencies, bonds and New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market equities.

The new resources are helping dozens of students at Carmichaels who compete in the semiannual Stock Market Challenge, a statewide contest held each fall and spring for elementary, middle and high schools sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council on Financial Literacy, a nonprofit financial literacy and entrepreneurship education organization.

Middle/high school librarian Cassie Menhart, who attended a teacher training for the Stock Market Challenge last January, said Carmichaels participated in the challenge for the first time last spring.

The online challenge teaches students and teachers how to invest in stocks, make stock market trades, analyze markets and build stock market portfolios while competing with other students.

“I was excited to bring the challenge and the stock market experience back to our students and registered several high school and middle school classes along with two elementary classes,” Menhart said. “Playing the game is such a benefit because they get a real-world experience.”

In the spring 2019 contest, Carmichaels ranked in the top 10 among schools statewide at three school levels. High school students placed third, middle schoolers ranked fourth and elementary students earned sixth place.

“After the great interest the students showed during the Stock Market Challenge, I realized that our school library needed an area where students would be surrounded with current, up-to-date, financial information,” she said.

The resulting finance lab was made possible through a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greene County’s Forget-Me-Not Fund and a $7,500 Innovation Grant awarded jointly by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Chevron, the EQT Foundation and the Intermediate Unit 1.

“(Students) do research and watch current events and how news affects the markets. Being surrounded by scrolling stocks, seeing them rise and fall, they are more aware of how markets work and how it affects their future,” said Menhart.

Menhart said the lab will be an asset to students enrolled in a personal finance course that Carmichaels will offer to students in grades 9-12 in the second half of the school year.

The course, which Menhart will instruct, covers behavioral finance, taxes, checking and saving accounts, paying for college, types of credit, managing credit, investing, insurance and budgeting, and will participate in the Stock Market Challenge.

Menhart said she has been attempting to increase participation in the Stock Market Challenge among area schools to enliven competition in the financial contest locally.

The Pennsylvania Council on Financial Literacy offers the Stock Market Challenge for free to schools through its website. The fall 2019 competition, which is currently underway, runs Oct. 7 to Dec. 13. The spring 2020 competition is scheduled to take place Feb. 20 to April 17.

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