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Fabian Fernandez-Han; Fabian at closing bell of NYSE Fabian Fernandez-Han was honored at the New York Stock Exchange on January 11. (Photo: Jon Whitney Studios)

Twelve-Year-Old Claims Prize for Stock Market Smarts

Winning idea in national contest teaches kids about investing money

By Robbin Friedman | null null , null
Fabian's iPhone, with a picture of his Oink-a-Saurus app. (Photo: Jon Whitney Studios)
Fabian's iPhone, with a picture of his Oink-a-Saurus app. (Photo: Jon Whitney Studios)

Do you ever wonder about the smartest way to spend your allowance? Twelve-year-old Fabian Fernandez-Han might have a few good ideas for you. Fabian won the NYSE Financial Future Challenge, sponsored by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Foundation. He received a prize of $2,500 and had the honor of ringing the closing bell at the stock exchange on January 11.

The contest aimed at getting young people to think about money management and investing. Kids ages 6 to 19 were asked to create a product idea that would teach their peers about finances and the stock market, and inspire them to think about saving or investing money.

Along with the NYSE Foundation, two other groups sponsored the contest: By Kids for Kids (BKFK), which encourages innovation by young people, and education company K12 Inc. Financial experts chose five finalists, including Fabian, from thousands of entries. Voters on BKFK.com picked Fabian’s “Oink-a-Saurus” as the winner.

An Imaginary Piggy Bank on Your Phone

Fabian’s Oink-a-Saurus is an idea for an iPhone or iPod app, a computer program that runs on Apple phones and MP3 players. Oink-a-Saurus would gather information about people’s interests and spending habits by tracking what they browsed online or bought in stores. Like an imaginary piggy bank, Oink-a-Saurus would then show how much money a user might have earned by saving and/or investing the money, instead of spending it.

Fabian explained why his idea is important. “Many kids spend huge amounts of money on things they don't need when they should be saving and investing for their future, such as college.” He thinks that if kids knew more about money, and how to save and invest it, they might make better choices.

More Great Ideas

The other finalists offered their own cool ideas for teaching kids about finance. Eight-year-old Tyra Smith proposed “Stock Pocket,” a game that would use electronic flashcards. Players would learn facts about the stock market and win points by answering questions correctly.

Twelve-year-old Kelsey Foss suggested a reality TV show called “Stock Market Tycoon Idol.” On the show, kids would compete to make or lose virtual money by investing in the stock market. Her plan included adult experts helping the kids and teaching the audience about money at the same time.

What Is the Stock Market?

Fabian and the other contestants tackled a very tough topic. Investing in the stock market is tricky even for many adults to understand. That’s one reason the NYSE and the other sponsors want to help kids learn about it early. The New York Stock Exchange is the biggest American marketplace for buying and selling stocks, or parts of public companies. While some companies are privately owned by a person or family, many big companies divide ownership into shares, or many little pieces of the company’s total value. Together, the shares are called stock.

People can invest their money in a company by buying one or more of its shares. If the company does well, the value of the investment usually goes up. If they wish, investors can then sell their shares at a profit. Money can be lost in the stock market as well, when the value of shares falls. Many investors lost money during the recent economic downturn.  

So what does Fabian plan to do with his $2,500 prize money? Invest it, of course.

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