UPDATE MAY 7, 2009: After advancing to the finals, the MHS team came in second.
According to a release from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York , a Mamaroneck High School team has been named a semi-finalist in the High School Fed District Challenge, a multilevel national competition designed to bring real-world economics into the classroom. After a first round of competition earlier this month, MHS seniors Matt Habig, Paul Antonios, Peter Gelman, Lukas Ault and Dan Foster were chosen to compete against other teams from New York and New Jersey on April 21st, with the possibility of advancing to the finals and competing against other district winners at the Board of Governors in Washington D.C.
“Our school is unique in that we use this competition as a learning tool for all of our students, rather than just focusing on the competition itself,” said MHS teacher Adam Sobel, who has 90 students in his AP Macroeconomics program, one of the largest in the state. He has had teams advancing in the Challenge four out of the ten years he has participated. “It’s a real accomplishment when you consider that the teams we’re up against have been working together for a full year, as most of the schools form clubs that revolve around preparing for this competition. In our case, we’ve been working on this as in-class project for only a couple of months. It’s a bonus when we’re chosen to advance in the Challenge.”
Mr. Sobel had eighteen teams in his AP class that researched and prepared a 15-minute in-class presentation on the state of the economy and made interest rate recommendations, followed by a Q&A session. The best team was selected to compete in the Fed Challenge, that uses a similar presentation model, but with a panel of judges comprised of Federal Reserve staff members, financial professionals and educators questioning the teams.
“I can honestly say that I learned more as a result of this project than any other project I’ve ever worked on. This project is a true example of taking education into our own hands,” said Matt Habig. “With Mr. Sobel’s guidance, we did all of the research ourselves, came up with our forecast, and really put everything together on our own. In class, we focus on the theoretical, but this is the real world, and there couldn’t be a better climate for studying it.”
The MHS student team has been preparing endlessly for the April 21st presentation, which will be made at the Federal Reserve Bank in NYC, and include the following:
- an analysis of economic and financial conditions (as of the day of the presentation),
- a near-term forecast of economic, financial and international conditions of critical importance in the development of monetary policy (for example, unemployment, inflation, output),
- identification of risks to the economy that should be of special concern for monetary policymakers, and
- a recommendation to increase, decrease or leave unchanged the level of short-term interest rates.
The Fed Challenge is closely aligned with the Federal Reserve Bank’s goals of increasing understanding of the Reserve’s role in setting U.S. monetary policy; developing students’ research, cooperation, presentation and critical thinking skills; promoting interest in economics, not only as a subject for undergraduate and postgraduate study, but as the basis for a career, and fostering a closer relationship between schools and the New York Fed.
Debbie Manetta is the Director of Public Information with the Mamaroneck School District.