05/18/2011 01:19 pm ET | Updated Jul 18, 2011

Finance Park In Fairfax, Va. Offers Middle Schoolers Lessons In Money Smarts

Pay the mortgage or buy a Lamborghini?

Based on their purchases in a financial literacy exercise, some middle schoolers in Fairfax County, Va. would rather take the sports car, NPR reports.

These decisions become learning experiences for eighth-graders in the large Washington, D.C. suburb's school system. Every student is required to explore such money management issues at an educational arena called Finance Park.

For a day, students go around Finance Park shopping at different mock storefronts buying basic necessities from groceries to home loans based on an imaginary budget.

According to NPR, which is currently running a series on young people and financial literacy, research indicates that these money management exercises prepare young people to budget well later in life.

Many teens were surprised to find out how difficult it is to maintain a middle class lifestyle. Student Lauren Katington was among many who had never discussed finance with her parents. Though Lauren said she would rather stay in the dark about her parents' money problems.

As she explained:

"Because then I would feel bad, for, like asking for things."