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Julien Meyer Guides Students to Victory Through Gamification

May 31, 2024 1:57 PM | Dawn Baker (Administrator)

Julien Meyer

The Severn School

Anne Arundel County Private School

In Julien Meyer’s Financial Algebra classes at Severn School, students are eager to show what they’re learning. That enthusiasm isn’t simply the result of bookwork and lectures; the high schoolers become engaged and excited through games, case studies, and fun, competitive activities.

The result is impressive student performance and participation, most recently culminating with a team of Julien’s students winning the Personal Finance Challenge National Championship in May!

Julien, who has taught for 25 years and is the Chairman of the Math Department at Severn, “gamifies” his teaching in finance courses of all kinds with activities that challenge students to apply what they learn in “real” life.

For example, using an award-winning curriculum that Julien designed based on his experience working on Wall Street, students play a digital game  similar to the board game, Life. They assume the roles of recent high school graduates who don’t have financial support from their family. Over a simulated 20 years, they make decisions based on their goals, such as going to college, owning a car, renting an apartment, planning for retirement, and paying bills.

“In class, games are a jumping off point to talk with students about financial concepts and habits, from paying bills and budgeting to investing and stock trading,” explained Julien. “You can learn techniques all you want, but actually doing is the best way to improve. Students become hooked by the fun of the game, and next thing you know, they’re learning and finding passion for the content.”

As it turns out, the digital game applies directly to the curriculum covered in MCEE’s Personal Finance Challenge. “Last year, one of our student teams made it to the state finals. This year, that same team won it all. They live and breathe this stuff; it’s really a passion they share, and their performance proves that.”

Many students in Julien’s classes have an interest in finance before taking his courses, thanks to Severn’s robust extracurricular programs, which include an after school Investment Club and Student Led Investment Portfolio group where students manage a stock portfolio on behalf of the school. The school has raised $45,000 so that students can invest real money; 20% a year. The stocks that students picked last year - including Stellantis (STLA) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) - are up 25-30%!

Julien and fellow educators at the Anne Arundel County-based independent school leverage many of MCEE’s resources, including the Stock Market Game and field trips to the Finance Lab at Towson University.

“I’ve found that often, families are uncomfortable talking with children about money. Meanwhile, some schools think this learning should happen at home. That’s a disconnect that puts students behind. It’s crucial that they have this education at a young age. As a teacher, you need to be a cheerleader internally to make sure this content is taught. I’ve seen kids change their habits to take advantage of compound interest and saving at a young age. It makes such a difference for future success.”

That difference was clear at the Personal Finance Challenge National Championship in Cleveland, Ohio last month. The Severn team excelled in the competition’s case study round - thanks to preparation in class - and outdid their opponents in the quiz round. The team beat out more than 15,000 students to win the Championship.

For teachers newer to finance and financial education, Julien’s advice is simple (and flattering!): “Don’t be intimidated. Lean on MCEE. They offer wonderful programs and resources, and their goal is to help teachers become comfortable with teaching this content. When it comes to finance, the learning never stops.”

Towson University
8000 York Rd.
Towson, MD  21252-0001

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