2013 Projects
Building Block$
Michelle Bar, Julie Nguyen, & Shahrouz Varshabi

The vast majority of Americans are woefully unprepared to manage their financial future.  Unfortunately the general public was not taught at an early age about the fundamentals of finance, which has led to many Americans having high mortgage rates, being thousands of dollars in debt in credit card and student loans, and having high interest rates. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that the average debt in 2011 was $23,300, with 10 percent owing more than $54,000 and 3 percent more than $100,000 . In order to prevent these trends from increasing, teens should be armored with the knowledge to make well thought out financial decisions that can lead to smart financial habits as an adult.

The issue we would like to address is the lack of financial literacy education available to teens. In the current economic climate, it is vital for young people to have a comprehensive understanding of their finances In the United States, only 7 states require high school students to take a financial literacy course. Teenagers are not given the resources or tools to make educated financial decisions on their college loans, credit scores, and taxes, just to name a few. More often than not, teens apply for student loans or credit cards without a clear understanding of their terms and conditions specifically international students.  In turn, this can lead to them acquiring low credit scores, and being thousands of dollars in debt.We are proposing an educational computer game, Building Block$, that will teach students how to make smart financial choices in an engaging and stimulating manner.  Building Block$ aims to teach teens how to better prepare for the real world and gives them the resources to learn about real life situations independently and on their own terms.

Contrary to the traditional board game, where you play with a group of people, this computer game will allow students to learn independently and at their own pace. The game will allow the player to create their own financial profile that they will use throughout the game.

What makes this computer game particularly unique is that it addresses different issues ranging from college loans, to mortgage rates, to retirement funds.  By passing different levels, ranging in difficulty, the player learns how to make educated long-term financial decisions. In addition, Building Block$ will include videos, quizzes and financial calculators in the game to ensure players have all the tools they need to pass each level.  Eventually, we would like to create an additional component to our game that will become part of larger suite of resources linking the best financial options for our users. Our goal is for Building Block$ to become a stimulating and reliable educational tool for students, teachers, and parents.

  • Vicky

    great idea!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=56701601 Julie Nguyen

      Thanks, Vicky!

  • DeMarcus B

    I absolutely love this & will support it any way I can!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=56701601 Julie Nguyen

      Thanks, DeMarcus!

    • Michelle Bar

      Thanks for your support!!!

  • Chaunsia W.

    This is great! Definitely something I wish I had in high school. You have my support!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=56701601 Julie Nguyen

      Thanks, love! Please get your friends to vote, too!

    • Michelle Bar


  • http://twitter.com/TalibInHarlem Talib Hudson

    Great project!

  • Saundra P

    This is a great idea! The need is definitely there!

  • Ian

    Similar to Kiyosaki’s Cashflow games. Good luck.

    • Michelle Bar

      Building Block$ is different because Cashflow (web-based version) is more of a game show style, while our game allows you take on an avatar and go through a series of financial obstacles. We did research to ensure that our project and cashflow are different and incorporate different aspects of financial literacy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharooooz Shahrouz Varshabi

    Awesome, I know so many international students like me who are really suffering from lack of financial knowledge in the U.S.

  • http://twitter.com/TalibInHarlem Talib Hudson

    Maybe think about how the game could be useful for low-income teens that could use ladders out of poverty. Just a suggestion.

  • Hannah Jang

    This sounds awesome!


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