Festival proves finance can be fun

Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs Paul Goldsmith, Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell and Massey University’s Dr Jeff Stangl with 300 students from the Upper Harbour Sorted Schools Cluster.

Three hundred primary and secondary students converged on Massey University’s Auckland campus yesterday to learn about money matters through a series of fun challenges. The inaugural Finance Festival was created by the Upper Harbour Sorted Schools Cluster to celebrate Money Week 2015. The event was supported by the Westpac Massey Fin-Ed Centre, the Massey Business School and the Commission for Financial Capability.

The festival was the brainchild of Massey finance lecturer Dr Jeff Stangl but dedicated teachers from the cluster designed and ran the competitions.

“The cluster is a group of teachers from primary and secondary schools in the Upper Harbour area. It’s a community of shared interest that revolves around financial literacy and the incorporation of financial education into the existing curriculum,” Dr Stangl said.

“The aim is to build financial capability from a very young age and to share knowledge and spread the word within schools. Massey’s proud to support in an advisory role as these teachers are doing great things for their students.”

The Project Fundway fashion parade – finance can be fun say teachers from the the Upper Harbour Sorted Schools Cluster.

Would you pay $59 per week for 100 weeks for an iPhone 5?

In launching the festival Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell warned the students to not get themselves into debt at a young age.

“When you leave school there are going to be a whole lot of people who are going to offer you credit and debt. It’s going to seem really exciting but, believe me, between 16 and 20 you can do an extraordinary amount of damage,” she said.

“We hope that you leave school with some smarts, that you know how to negotiate your way through a contract and you have some really good questions up your sleeves for the people lending you money or selling you things.”

The Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs Paul Goldsmith asked the group if they thought paying $59 a week for 100 weeks for an iPhone 5 was a good idea.

“That’s an offer I saw on a flyer in a shop in South Auckland. Do you think it’s a good idea to spend $5900 on an iPhone 5? Unfortunately a lot of people do things like that and pay way too much and get themselves into trouble,” he said. “The best thing you can do is to educate people so they don’t make bad decisions in the first place.”

Westpac Massey Fin-Ed Centre director Dr Pushpa Wood challenged the students to spread the word.

“You are our future and unless we can convince you how important it is to manage your money wisely, we don’t have a future as a nation,” she said. “No pressure! But have fun today and take what you learn home to your parents so you can raise awareness within your family.”

The Great Race winners from Brown’s Bay Primary: Helen Wang, Dylan Glen, Anthony Prajogo and Zach Taylor.

Brown's Bay Primary triumphs in The Great Race

The festival activities were designed for three different age groups, with Year 5 and 6 primary students competing in a challenge called The Great Race. Teams had to find 10 stations and answer money-related questions correctly to win fake money.

Brown’s Bay Primary School took out first and second place and their Year 6 teacher Debbie Pulman was understandably proud.

“Being part of the cluster has really opened my eyes to the importance of financial literacy, including my own financial position,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see the children learn these skills in the classroom and that often leads to discussions at home.”

Winning students Helen Wang, Anthony Prajogo, Dylan Glen and Zach Taylor all agreed the festival had been a lot of fun, as well as a good learning experience.

Project Fundway winners from Albany Junior High: Teacher Vicky Crawford (head of Albany Junior High’s Business Academy), Jack Harwood, Braden Barker, Jesse Stevens and Nicolas Haines.

Fashion meets finance – and the boys rule supreme

Students in Years 7 to 10 had their financial knowledge and their creativity tested in a trade and design challenge called Project Fundway. Each team was given $50 to spend on items to create a fashion-themed garment but, as resources were scarce, many had to trade items. The challenge ended with a runway show where each team sold the financial features of their garment.

The competition was won by an all-boy team from Albany Junior High for their Money Bot creation. Team model Braden Barker said their concept was about “terminating all debt”.

“Learning this stuff should be compulsory because we learn so much in our class,” he said. “It’s my favourite subject, even more than sport.”

Fellow team member Jesse Stevens said, “You learn about how to make money and to save money for the future so there’s a real point to it.”

Their teacher and head of the school’s Business Academy, Vicky Crawford, said teaching finance and business skills is something Albany Junior High has really embraced

“We love it, the teachers are all really passionate about it and it goes right through school. And you can see the kids enjoy it too, they think it’s fun.”

The Investment Challenge winners from Albany Junior High: Daniel Bindon, Yuuki Takahashi, Oskar Rutten and Benjamin Howard outside Massey University’s Trading Room.

Young financial advisors in the making

The older students at the festival got a taste of university life with a series of short lectures on investment, including shares, mutual funds, fixed-term deposits, bonds and property.

They were then given the challenge of designing an investment portfolio for the fictional Ropati family, who had recently come into an inheritance. Albany Junior High again took top honours, despite competing against older students from other schools.

Oskar Rutten, Benjamin Howard, Yuuki Takahashi and Daniel Bindon all said they learnt a lot from the lectures, especially about mutual funds, which they included in their recommendation for the Ropati family.

“It felt great to win and it’s been such a fun day,” said Oskar Rutten. “We really learnt a lot too and business is something I’m keen to keep studying."

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