I was in a magnet program in high school called Banking and Finance. One of the programs features was investing. We had to invest on 12 stocks (mutal fund) and make a report on why we selected them. We came in 1st, but so did 30 other students. Just a reminder this is over the internet and I am not certified to give you advise,so take this with a grain of salt.
When I had to do the project. We did our research through Standard & Poor's, Quickens, and Yahoo finance. Standard & Poor's and Quicken (seem of late) are paying sites, but I got it for free through the school. Standard & Poor's was a great site to use for it rating system of stocks in which they would provide information and the security of the stocks.
There is many ways to invest it just depends on you really (mutual funds, invidiaul stocks, bonds, IRA, and even life insurance) if you serious about investing. I would recommend you to talk to stockbroker and/or People at a Bank. They have mutual funds in which you can invest your money. Sure you might not gain as much as you would if you personally invested, but you element alot of the risk envolved. The benefits of doing this is that instead of leaving your money in a saving account that pays you little interest. You can put it in a mutual fund that is twice the interest of the saving account. That how banks get rich, they give you lower rate and invest your money while keeping most of the profit. Only negative is liquidity, in which it takes longer to turn your stocks into cash. In principial the stock market as a whole is always suppose to go up (but like everything in life, it not a sure thing like example: black tuesday when the stock market crashed).