JA’s Virtual Stock Market Simulation Fills Gap for Students Excited About GameStop and AMC

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Screenshot of JA’s custom-built Stock Market Simulation

This past year has seen much volatility in the stock market. In January, we saw GameStop make seismic moves, and this week AMC is in the news for the same reason. Both stem from exponentially growing popularity in stocks from individuals on Reddit.

The stock market is popular with teens too. Peek into your local high school, or even middle school, and you’ll see a surprising new clique that wasn’t around in the 80s or 90s: the “stonks”—kids who talk about the stock market and are maybe even investing in the stock market.

These teens are jumping right into the riskiest point, however, without fundamental knowledge of how stocks and investments work.

For more than 15 years, JA-Rocky Mountain has offered the JA Stock Market Challenge and accompanying lessons called JA Take Stock in Your Future. Volunteer role models deliver the curriculum and provide foundational lessons about long-term investing, risks, strategies, how global events impact the stock market, and more. Students then attend the JA Stock Market Challenge, an immersive atmosphere simulating a trading floor, where they compete against other student teams with the goal of building the largest stock portfolio.

“COVID did not stop JA this year,” says Chris Silberman, JA’s director of communications. “While we could not hold the in-person event this past year, we worked with the company Paygrade to custom-build a digital simulation tied to the actual stock market that allows students to practice what they learned without the risk. The virtual platform means that our students in Wyoming could participate too.”

“This lesson will be something that will benefit me throughout the rest of my life,” says North High School student Emilio, who had the chance to participate in the new virtual Stock Market simulation this spring. “It has given me the basic knowledge and understanding of not only our economy, but our government, and the country as a whole.”

The swift virtual adaptation was only possible thanks to the support of individual donors and corporate sponsors, including Charles Schwab, Wells Fargo, McKinsey & Company, and SM Energy. Additional classroom sponsors included Deloitte, Lockheed Martin, Oracle, US Bank, and OtterBox.