Heard on the Hill

Are you (financially) smarter than a sixth-grader?

Watch out, Warren Buffett — there are middle schoolers on the Hill after your job

Want to keep up with the future investors of America? Get out your calculators. (Shutterstock)

Words such as “portfolio,” “investment” and “diversify” echoed in the Rayburn foyer and flew way over my head as winning middle and high school students from 10 congressional districts gathered on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. The kids were there to claim bragging rights and offer a crash course in Economics 101.

When it comes to the stock market, “start as early as you can and pay attention to what you’re investing in, and make sure it’s a long-term investment,” advised Raylee Stopka, a sixth-grader from Texas. (Sound dating advice for anyone looking for a soulmate as well.)

The “Stock Market Game” teaches students to invest a hypothetical $100,000 in listed stocks, bonds and mutual funds so they can learn the value of capital markets — all without leaving the classroom. The national competition is put on by trade association SIFMA and the SIFMA Foundation and is supported by the Charles Schwab Foundation.

In other words, “The [Stock Market Game] enables students to get into the shoes of stock brokers and financial advisors,” explained SIFMA Foundation President Melanie Mortimer.

The “stock market” can seem elusive for most adults, but these kids have it pretty down pat for people who are lightyears away from putting their money where their picks are IRL.

“We made sure our stocks were diversified and in different types of categories,” said Carson Bedgood, a sixth-grader from Mississippi and member of the winning team. His strategy? To research the competitors of companies like Amazon and Netflix and invest in the higher-performing underdogs, rather than default to the “big” names themselves.

Before the challenge, students like recent high school grad Brandon Johnson knew nothing about stocks. Today, he knows enough to suggest embracing companies like Johnson & Johnson. “Even though they got sued a lot, I was still able to make profits,” he told me. 

So now the million-dollar question remains: Which stock options should profit-hungry investors consider? According to our team of money makers: Disney, Dell, Lego and TravelZoo, to name a few.

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