Students discover how well $500,000 would last during a recession.

For high school students and college undergraduates, the recent recession may only be something about which they read. But members of the Future Business Leaders of America–Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL), a student organization in the College of Business Administration, along with the Department of Economics at Florida International University (FIU) created an experience that allows this population to more fully understand the crisis.

At the “Economic Xperience” event held on campus January 24, 2011, students from Miami Sunset Senior High School and from FIU experienced the moments of decision making, gains and losses that have been happening during the recession.

The morning began with a presentation by Alan Gummerson, from the Department of Economics, who spoke about recent economic events and gave attendees hints about information they would need for the competition.

Alan Gummerson provided context for the activity by describing recent events in the economy.
Alan Gummerson provided context for the activity by describing recent events in the economy.

“Next, each participant was given $500,000 in virtual money and made decisions about how to invest,” said organization president Bruno Cevallos.

During six rounds that mirrored the events of the recession, participants could invest in fictional items in three markets: housing, consumer goods and stock.

“A forecast was presented at the beginning of each round so players learned important data, such as what was going on in the housing market,” Cevallos said. “Then they could make purchases.”

Jonathan Yoc Kim, FBLA-PBL webmaster with Miami Sunset Senior High School students as the students make their rounds purchasing properties as part of the competition.

The average student ended up with $175,000. Discussion tables at the conclusion of the program allowed them to analyze their decisions.

“The Economic Xperience was an entertaining and innovative way to better understand real life issues,” said senior Abdel Perera, winning the college-level competition by ending with $475,000.

Along with Cevallos, members of the Free Enterprise Committee responsible for the inventing the game were Laura Alonso, Luis Castillo, Daniel Fernandez and Jose Nunez. Castillo did the computer coding for the project.

Yanyn San Luis (BA ’10) and Jose Toscano (BA ’97) serve as chapter advisors.

Activity is part of FBLA-PBL’s competition.

Every year during the FBLA-PBL state competition, individual chapters present a free enterprise project; the Economic Xperience will be this year’s entry for the FIU chapter.

“In addition, we’re making changes to the activity, to simplify it to be an appropriate workshop for high school students,” Cevallos said.

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