Do High School Students Understand Inflation? You bet!

 Algrim-TeacherIIF218pxSIFMA Foundation Stock Market Game students from Dr. Keith Astuto’s class at South Miami Senior High School  accurately predicted the rate of inflation for 12 consumer products and services to win first place in the first interstate PNC Christmas Price Index® SIFMA Foundation Stock Market Game Challenge. They will be honored at an awards ceremony on February 27, 2015 and receive cash prizes, a pizza party for their class, and a trophy for their school. Nick Heiting’s students at West High School (Wauwatosa, WI) finished in second place and Mary Galeri’s South Miami Senior High School (Miami, FL) students finished in third place.

Together, PNC Wealth Management and the SIFMA Foundation have provided teachers with an engaging and effective way to discuss the impact of inflation on the economy and related financial trends. The PNC Christmas Price Index® SIFMA Foundation Stock Market Game Challenge asks students to apply what they’ve learned in the Stock Market Game to estimate the current cost of each item in the PNC Christmas Price Index and then submit a short essay outlining their rationale. The competition expanded this year to include four states – Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.

“Congratulations to all of the participating students, teachers and schools and in particular the winning teams at South Miami Senior High School and West High for their effort on the PNC Christmas Price Index® SIFMA Foundation Stock Market Game Challenge,” said Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer, PNC Wealth Management.  “The estimates were remarkably close to the actual CPI and in many cases required significant research and resourcefulness by the students to calculate.”

The popular annual PNC Christmas Price Index® is a whimsical economic indicator based on the prices of gifts in the holiday classic “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”   Expert educators consider the PNC CPI a fun and engaging way to teach 21st Century Literacy Skills and Standards. First place teacher, Keith Astuto praises the program, saying, “These are World History students, and we’ve already encountered a good number of economic concepts in the course so far, not the least of which was inflation. Our discussions about that were a natural lead-in to the PNC CPI.” He adds, “I utilize SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game because I can use the InvestWrite and PNC CPI activities to make cross-curricular connections. For many years, we Social Studies teachers have been saddled with the burden of having to ‘teach everything.’ The Stock Market Game provides a great way to do that.”  In 2014, Astuto and other teachers instructed nearly 700 students in four states to take the PNC CPI SMG Challenge. Since the competition’s inception, nearly 2,500 students and their teachers have taken part in the Challenge.

Students competing in the PNC Christmas Price Index- SIFMA Foundation Stock Market Game Challenge research each of the gifts mentioned in the song, looking at source data, such as the price of gold for the golden rings or macro-economic indicators such as historical trends of inflation. They calculate the estimated percent change from 2013 prices and compose a short essay describing their research and supporting their findings. Students then eagerly await PNC’s release of the final price data on December 1, hoping that their research produced the best estimates.

“Like PNC, the SIFMA Foundation believes that providing teachers with engaging and effective financial educational resources is a sure path for their students’ success,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “This competition makes learning fun and real-world, drawing students in and enabling them to learn first-hand about otherwise complex but important economic concepts such as inflation, price indexes, cycles and trends.”

Students participating in the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game program are introduced to personal finance and investing, while exploring real-world applications of the math they are taught in the classroom. A study conducted by American Institutes for Research found students who participated in the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game program scored higher on math achievement tests than their non-participating peers.

About PNC
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.  is one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations providing retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. .

About the SIFMA Foundation for Investor Education
The SIFMA Foundation is dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of the financial markets for individuals of all backgrounds. Drawing on the support and expertise of the financial industry, the SIFMA Foundation provides financial education programs and tools that strengthen economic opportunities across communities and increase individuals’ access to the benefits of the global marketplace. Notable Foundation programs include the Stock Market Game, which has served more than 14 million students since it began in 1977, the InvestWrite national essay competition, and the Capitol Hill Challenge.

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