Students Trade on New York Mock Exchange

Carrying checkbooks worth $15,000 in imaginary money, fourth-graders at Westlake Elementary School on Wednesday played the stock market while learning some math lessons at the same time.

"You really feel responsible," said 10-year-old Colleen Henahan, who was trying to sell Disney stock to one of her friends. "It's like running your own business."

This is the 12th consecutive year that math teacher Lesly Vick has simulated the New York Stock Exchange in the school's multipurpose room. For weeks, her accelerated math students have been choosing stocks, charting companies' daily market prices, creating company logos and preparing to sell shares--at a 10% commission--to their classmates.

At one booth, the sales pitch to buy stock bordered on aggressive.

"You're only buying one share?" one student asked another. "Borders is our best stock. You have $15,000 to spend!"

Vick stood by proudly, handing out check receipts and offering financial advice to her students.

"Some kids take this so seriously and come back and tell me their dad or mom bought them two shares of such and such stock," she said. "These are young capitalists at work, here."

Aside from practicing their math skills, Vick said, the project allows the students real-life business experiences, such as working with partners, marketing a concept and dealing with losses if a stock price should plummet.

The students will continue the stock market session again Friday and in another six weeks, will see how their companies have done.

"This is good practice, to see if you want to become a real stockbroker," said 9-year-old Andrew Chen, who picked Microsoft to sell because he likes computers.

Besides the students who learned the hard-core business aspects, others just plain had fun playing the stock market.

"I love using the stapler and signing the checks and using the calculator," said 9-year-old Jacob Justice. "That's the coolest part."

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