We looked at the challenges covering education, and finance and we realized that even as young adults going into university, investing money and making financial decisions is unbelievably foreign to us.
We realized that the idea of learning the fundamental financial concepts as we were growing up had always been both incredibly intimidating and particularly boring to invest time into. We decided that a fun way to plant the seeds of financial thought into their mind would be through a medium all kids love… games :)
⚙️What it does
Stalkmarket 🌱 is an Android app that makes learning the basics of finance and investing fun! We gamify the experience of investing for young kids by modelling it through the analogy of running your own farm 👩🌾. Just like how stock traders buy and sell stocks, kids can buy and sell crops at the farmer’s market where prices will fluctuate over time according to past stock market prices.
Stalkmarket 🌱 has a built-in learning center where kids can choose to read up on curated and well explained concepts to help them make better investing, saving, and loan decisions while running their farm. They can also store their own notes and observations as they play!
🔨 How we built it
After several long brainstorming sessions mapping out the project, database structure and even just thinking of ideas, we used Figma to put together our initial mockups, design systems and illustrations! We then implemented the application in Android Studio using Java and XML, where we stored and retrieved our information in Firebase and integrated features like signing in with Google.
😭 Challenges we ran into
Surprisingly enough, some of our biggest challenges weren’t technical issues. Rather, one of the greatest hurdles we faced was gaining a strong understanding of the root causes of low financial literacy in women and children, and then thinking of an effective solution that would translate complex financial concepts into fun experiences.
On a more technical level, having never worked with JSON or the TwelveData API before, we had a difficult time with parsing the data. We followed countless tutorials however they were either from a different version or didn’t work as we were implementing it within a fragment. With the knowledge from all of the tutorials we were able to figure it out!
Finally, structuring our database effectively was also a challenge considering we had to keep track of their inventory, the appropriate images for each type of item, a history of transactions, and any external “mutual funds” they decided to purchase from the bank. It was especially confusing to structure relationships between different nodes containing user and investment data. Nevertheless, we ended up using foreign keys, custom Java objects and lots of testing to make our app work!
- getting a strong understanding of the barriers to financial literacy in women and children
- Thinking of solutions that would translate difficult financial concepts into fun experiences
- TwelveData API
- Structuring + Managing Transactions with in game currency
💪 Accomplishments that we’re proud of
One of our proudest accomplishments by far is our idea. Not only are we proud of what we learnt in the process of researching finance, but financial literacy is such an important topic that is severely under addressed in our society. Being able to develop a long-term solution (we have a lot of extra plans we’re excited about!) that helps women and youth achieve financial independence and live prosperous lives is a deeply fulfilling accomplishment for us.
The design: we put a lot of thought into developing a holistic design that would be welcoming, fun and engaging for kids. Whether it was the simple copywriting or the soft green colour schemes, we wanted to use design to elevate and promote continuous pursuits for greater financial literacy.
Challenging our Technical Skills: from writing cleaner, more efficient code for our XML layouts to working with new APIs, we’re really proud of ourselves for stepping outside of our typical strengths to work in new areas---all while supporting each other along the way.
The Green Design ;D! Doing a lot of research to pinpoint root causes and being very thoughtful with a solution, we had to abstract concepts into more concrete representations Learning and deepening our understanding of financial concepts Learnt to manipulate JSON data and work with a new API twelveData to model the fluctuation of stock prices
📕 What we learned
As recently graduated high schoolers, in the process of developing this app we realized we ourselves did not know much about personal finance as well as, we did a lot of research on financial concepts as well as what was best used to represent them in a fun way!
Other important things we learnt were:
- Setting aside time for software and database architecture is extremely worthwhile
- How to manipulate and extract JSON data from the TwelveData API to use for modelling the value of a stock
- Strong solutions come from strong understandings of the problem
- Setting mini deadlines helps to keep the team on track and motivated
⏭ What's next for stalkmarket
As a whole, we would like to add more features that would make the experience more in depth and model more abstract financial concepts for the players/users:
- Saving & Debt: 💶 We want to incorporate aesthetic features that kids can purchase with their ingame currency to test and teach the importance of saving in order to be able to afford their daily watering expenses or wiser purchases!
- Loans & Mortgages: 🏠 Every farm runs out of land! As students purchase more investments we want to introduce the concepts of loans and mortgages by allowing them to take out mortgages to buy more plots of land for more crops, or loans for more goods!
- Community & Competition: 👪 Allowing students to “compete” with their friends and foster community is a big next step we’d love to implement in order to encourage students to actively engage in conversations about finance with their peers.
- Donating Google Advertisements: 🤝 we want to embed google advertisements into the app such that all proceeds can go towards programs that help to promote the financial literacy of students and multi-barrier populations
- Creating Parent & Teacher Portals: We really believe in the potential of Stalkmarket as an education tool for students to learn about finance, and think that with administrative features, it could be a viable product we sell to educational institutions and families.
- Adding more stuff to encourage kids to spend their money and invest in themselves by giving them the option for a “farmer” education. Add hints on what ‘stalks’ to potentially invest in or buy Model other bank accounts or services: RESP RRSP