"At 12 years old, I know a lot about lunch-box snack cakes, so that's where I focused my attention," she said. Her most important piece of investment advice: "Follow your instincts."
The students got to reap the rewards of their financial literacy at a time when most Americans are getting the opposite results.
In a recent survey by the Investor Education Foundation at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, 61 percent of respondents were unable to answer three of five questions correctly—a record weaker than the one set three years earlier.
(Read More: Financial Literacy Education Efforts Get Failing Grade)
Sen. Kay Hagan (D.-N.C.) has introduced the Financial Literacy for Students Act, but it islanguishing in committee.
The consequences of Americans' lack of know-how with finances are reflected in everything from the subprime meltdown to our dismal savings rate.
(Read More: America's Savings Crisis: Your Spending Habits May Be to Blame)
And such lack of understanding has more ramifications. Without grasping the implications, many young people are saddling themselves with college debt that often reaches into the tens of thousands of dollars.
They are being asked "to make some of the most important decisions of their life, whether to invest in education at an early time, and whether to take out debt," said Annamaria Lusardi, professor at the George Washington University School of Business. Financial literacy is "a new skill that is necessary to live in today's society," she added.
(Read More: Student Debt a 'Roadblock' for Wider Economy: Report)
But these challenges don't concern the winners of the InvestWrite contest—at least not right now. They're too busy savoring their trip, and some are considering a future in finance.
"Everyone likes money," said Andrew Bent, a junior at Poolesville High School in Poolesville, Md., who scored with Toyota and Apple. He called his visit to the stock exchange floor "awesome" and said he was looking forward to seeing the gold at the Fed.
Finance, he said, "is very interesting to me."
—By CNBC's Kelley Holland.