Students win social media competition

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Oscar Wang

Forty Philadelphia high school students will spend Saturday at the University of Pennsylvania as a reward for winning a competition sponsored by Knowledge@Wharton High School.

KWHS, launched in March 2011, is a division of the Knowledge@Wharton interactive business journal of the University of Pennsylvania. It has global reach, but one objective is to increase educational opportunity and access to resources for urban students.

“The goal is to create a global platform for leadership and entrepreneurship for high school students,” said Scott Stimpfel, director of educational initiatives for Knowledge@Wharton. The program decided to focus on urban districts because “they unfortunately have…had a lot of resources stripped from them."

Last summer, the high school initiative brought together 140 students from 30 local schools to work with Penn students and professors to develop lesson plans in business education topics including leadership, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

The lesson plans offer activity suggestions, definitions of important business terms, and access to additional resources. Most of them, along with news articles, career advice, and expert business opinions, are available on the KWHS website.

Another KWHS strategy is to create competitions for students to solve real-world problems. In November, it launched a pilot contest for students to devise ways to spread the word about the program itself through social media. More than 200 students from seven schools participated.

The winners of that competition – from Bodine, Central, Kensington Business, Bartram, Motivation, Business and Technology, and Franklin Learning Center – are the ones who will visit Penn on Saturday for a “leadership day.” They will interact with Wharton students in leadership and teamwork activities, hear an admissions presentation, tour the Penn campus, and attend a networking event.

A broader contest called the “Philadelphia Entrepreneur Competition” is in the works for students and educators to engineer strategies that will incentivize students and teachers to log onto the KWHS website.

KWHS also has an online stock trading simulation in the works. The “Global Trading Challenge” will allow students to manage their own virtual portfolios and gain hands-on knowledge of the stock market. Students and schools will compete with each other for prizes and scholarships and be judged on their trading strategies and the profitability of their holdings.

Stimpfel said the program is the most ambitious yet on the part of Wharton to reach out to high school students.

"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken at a high school in Philadelphia, talked about Penn and students [ask] ‘What is Penn?’ or ‘What is Wharton?’" he says. "An overall goal is to raise awareness of different educational opportunities, whether [it be] Penn or any other university. From my standpoint, we want to bring consciousness to students, hopefully, to continue to achieve their academic dreams and go to college. It is possible."