Many students don’t get enough exposure to financial literacy education before they graduate and face real-world financial decisions. The Financial Literacy Competition and related resources support teachers in addressing this knowledge gap.
The competition was a passion project for Grant Russell, a University of Waterloo faculty member, who started the competition in 2013. After Russell’s retirement, Tracy Hilpert, a SAF lecturer, with financial support from Sagen™, continued to offer the competition experience free of charge to an increasing number of high school students.
Adapting to the Pandemic – Möbius Allows Students to Continue to Compete
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, SAF wanted to continue offering its financial literacy competition. Before the pandemic, students would participate in a physical classroom with a teacher serving as a proctor. The Möbius platform allowed the students to continue participating remotely and on different days and times to accommodate the varied schedules each school and school board adopted during the pandemic.
Making it Easier for Educators – More Flexibility and Scalability
Flexibility to offer the competition when it works for teachers and students has proven to be a significant benefit of moving the competition to the Möbius platform.
SAF has grown the competition from 300 to 400 students on average per school year to more than 1,500 students. In 2022, the competition hosted students led by more than 70 teachers from approximately 65 schools in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
“I think Möbius helped us with that,” said Hilpert. “We haven’t run into limits. We’ve been able to add more students and allow more classes to participate at a time that works best for them by offering the competition through Möbius.”
A Creative Way to Expand Students’ Awareness of Important Financial Topics
Through quizzes and lessons created in Möbius, high school students can prepare for the competition with engaging, interactive activities that expose them to topics they may not be discussing in their standard coursework.
“The basics need to get out there,” said Hilpert. “And the younger we can get those basics out to students, the better.”
SAF wanted to bridge the gap for students whose business and math courses weren’t always covering topics like budgeting, credit cards, and investing. The main objective of the competition is to increase awareness of financial literacy topics.
“We want to give teachers and their students resources and opportunities to learn about financial literacy,” said Hilpert.
While no competition can cover everything students will need to know, the goal is to spark an interest.
“It lets students know what they need to learn and creates that curiosity,” said Hilpert. “It’s a way to get these topics into schools and get students to ask questions about things they don’t necessarily otherwise learn. Math has a placeholder in the school curriculum, but financial literacy doesn’t always have that.”
Bringing in Real-World Scenarios: The Flexibility to Ask a Variety of Interactive, Engaging Questions
“Möbius gave us the ability to create a solid question bank,” said Hilpert.
Using Möbius, SAF encourages students to explore various topics within financial literacy as they prepare for the competition. The flexibility of Möbius allows organizers to update the questions based on current real-world topics, including financial relief programs, inflation, cryptocurrency, mortgages, and fraud.
Through the competition, students answer financial questions with real-world applications. They may be asked, for example, if they invest money at a specific rate of return when the money would double, or to look at an email attempting to gain access to a user’s information and point out what might indicate that the email is a scam. In other questions, students may be given a home ownership scenario and asked to determine what mortgage amount the buyer could afford, or they may be asked to interpret the terms of a credit card agreement.
“The competition covers so many things that students may encounter,” said Hilpert. “I hope they end up feeling a little more confident asking questions about money after they participate. Sometimes, they just need a safe space to ask questions.”
Expanding a Successful Competition: Supporting Positive Experiences with Financial Literacy Education
SAF has received positive feedback from students and teachers on the competition. Students find it a fun activity that gives them more resources and support to learn about financial topics.
“Our student winners are always very excited,” said Hilpert.
Using Möbius, SAF has made participating easier for educators. Teachers have reported that the platform is easy for them to learn and that participating is not time-consuming. They’ve also shared that they feel well-informed and that it’s a smooth process for educators.
“They’re glad to have a way to introduce students to these topics,” said Hilpert. “The competition helps teachers bring financial literacy into their classrooms.”
There’s a lot of excitement about the topic, and SAF and Sagen™ are looking to grow the competition.
“We’d love to see it become a more national competition,” said Hilpert. “Möbius allows us to keep expanding and we’d like to continue making it easier for teachers interested in bringing these important topics into their classrooms.”
“Expanding the competition is very doable with Möbius,” said Hilpert. “It’s not constraining, and we’re able to create and update the resources we need in Möbius.”
Currently, SAF runs the competition twice a year in May and December for a growing group of engaged students.