An math teacher is in the running to win $200 and an iPod Touch through a grant program with ING Financial Services.
As of Tuesday, statistics and geometry teacher Johnny Souris has 70 votes in the competition. He needs 360 by July 26 to beat the leader.
Souris submitted a project for his senior statistics course after discovering brain research said students learn best when content is connected to their everyday lives.
The project involves students researching terms in the stock market and picking companies to ‘invest’ in.
The class then analyzes trade price and regression. Students check their portfolios regularly, present them to the class and learn the statistical targets for the course.
Souris said he tries to emphasize the opportunity they have to invest later in life.
“My hope is that once they graduate, they can take some of their financial graduation gifts, open an account with a discount brokerage and utilize the skills learned in the class,” he said.
The math teacher would use the iPod Touch to create a video presentation of the ‘most profitable’ portfolio. The $200 would be used for incentives such as gift certificates for completed homework, good attendance and classroom improvement.
“I have been teaching for 21 years and I am old school when it comes to working as hard as I can to teach students the importance of being a lifelong learner for (the right reasons),” Souris said. “However, today’s learners, who are sometimes called digital natives, are very much ‘rewards-based’ learners, often motivated by points and extrinsic rewards.”
Souris discovered the grant opportunity during a technology seminar at a convention of math teachers. The speaker shared several free and shared resources for teachers, including We Are Teachers, a website where eduators can find out about grants and share ideas on curriculum.
“Today's students need to know 'why' more than ever,” Souris said. “One year I had a student wonder if the price of sugar fluctuates with the price of soda sales. His parent was an employee of Pepsi and the question came up at dinner.”
Souris said the research did show a correlation and the student learned as they saw the differences and similarities in the variety of companies chosen.
“I always tell my students how I wish someone would have introduced me to this information when I was younger,” he said. “I sincerely believe that even though at 17 years old, many of the students think they allow the information to go in one ear and out the other, their attitudes and thinking about money do change.”
Souris also said he wanted to expose his students to companies like St. Louis-based Energizer as future employers.