How to Incorporate Arcade Games in the Classroom: STAX

The Arcade game we will be covering this week is the very popular STAX. The game takes about twenty minutes to play, can be played individually, where the student is competing against the computer, or as a group, where students compete against each other (and the computer.)   The game simulates investing over a twenty-year period. I don’t think I have heard anything but positive feedback from teachers who use it in their classroom regarding student engagement and enthusiasm for the game.


If you are brand new to using STAX, or if you haven’t checked out the Teacher Tip Video by Amanda Volz, it is worth taking 12 minutes to watch. It is helpful to hear Amanda explain how the game is set up, what the computer does with the money it invests (index funds), and that the data used in the game covers 35 years, so multiple plays will give you different results. Step number two for anyone new to the game would be to just get online and play it!


Amanda recommends having students play the game after you have covered investing so that students are familiar with the material. The game includes seven types of investments, but you don’t need to cover all seven. There is plenty of information within the game to fill in any gaps in student knowledge. Since it only takes twenty minutes to play, you could have students play it on their own first to get a feel for the game a bit, and then go ahead and play it as a class. The competitive element is often a great incentive for students.


Many have shared their ideas in the Facebook group FinLit Fanatics. (This is also a place to post if you are having an issue with the game, and teachers usually jump on to help you.) Many teachers report getting creative with the “leader board” and even offer other incentives/prizes for the “winners.” It also is a great activity to use on an observation day, or just invite an administrator into your classroom on the day you play and have them play too! Courtney Poquette reported that two of her students came in on a day off to lead an investing workshop for teachers and had them play STAX!


Some teachers use the game both at the beginning and the end of their investing unit, so students get a sense of how much they have learned when they do better the second time around at the end of the unit, but most students figure out the trick to winning once they have played. I even had students play the game with no prior knowledge at all, and they jumped right in and were totally engaged, figuring things out as they went.


As with all NGPF Arcade games, there is a reflection sheet available for students to fill out. Teachers note on FinLit Fanatics that students don’t know or don’t remember that they are supposed to take a screenshot of their portfolios at the end of the game, so it may be a good idea to remind them to do so if you are using the reflection worksheet. Again, in her video, Amanda has good recommendations for the sorts of things you can be doing to encourage and check in on your students as they play.


Get ready to “Build your STAX!”




Resource Recap


QOD’s that might be good to use to introduce the game.


FinCap Fridays that could also be used as an introduction



Articles that could be assigned before or after playing STAX

  • What is the Average Return of the Stock Market? (Seeking Alpha)
  • Investment Portfolio: What It Is and How to Build a Good One (Nerd Wallet)
    Inflation Could Make or Break Rebounding 60/40 Portfolio (Reuters)

the Author

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an MBA in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducts student workshops, and develops finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.


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