Photo Credit: NBC/Evans Vestal Ward
Set your TV to record Neil Patrick Harris’ new show, Genius Junior, on April 29th at 8:00 CST because one of our own, Vivek Abraham, will be gracing the screen.
Like many of us, Vivek is new to Frisco and jumping headfirst into embracing everything that Frisco has to offer. But Vivek is not your typical Frisco resident…
Vivek is a 12 year old 8th grade Mensa member taking advanced courses in Frisco while simultaneously taking classes through Northwestern’s Center for Talent for Development. He has a black belt in Taekwondo, plays the piano and viola, already took Calculus and studies for the ACT/SAT in his free time.
Like many students in Frisco, he also participates in the Symphonic Orchestra and recently competed in UIL Solo and Ensemble competition. Between his duties as a big brother to a little sister and acclimating to a new town, Vivek keeps himself extremely busy!
He speaks highly of his Frisco teachers, including his ILA teacher, Mrs. Stacey Toma, who provides fun projects with opportunities for individualization and personal growth.
Vivek’s mom, Anupama Chandrappa, knew that Vivek was different at a young age when he was reading at the age of two. But she didn’t truly realize the extent of his abilities until his second grade teacher, Mrs. Kraft, expressed that in her 35 years of teaching, she had never taught someone so smart. He was provided an IQ test and scored a 160, the highest possible score.
Soon thereafter he was placed in Gifted and Talented classes. While Mrs. Chandrappa knew that he was smart, she didn’t have a real frame of reference to understand just how advanced he was. “We didn’t know. We only had one kid!”
Vivek has a younger sister, Aradhya, who is an adorably active 3-year old who dripped ice cream on the pristine floors as we chatted on the couch. Vivek says that he loves being a role model for his sister and tries his best to teach her basic academics.
Vivek got a phone call from the NBC game show Genius Junior, which takes “the brightest kids in America and puts their smarts to the test.” He went through a series of interviews before flying to Los Angeles for the taping.
All participants on the show are extremely bright children aged 8-12 and have to demonstrate familiarity with topics such as human geography, mathematics, spelling, and memory in a rapid-fire questioning that tests their stamina and intelligence.
Vivek shares that it was a rigorous but fun process.
As a new Genius Junior viewer, my favorite portion of the show is during the Human Dictionary segment when children are given 90 seconds to spell as many provided words such as delicatessen, backgammon, and nincompoop – backward! As a person who keeps spellcheck at the ready for when I’m spelling forward, this particular segment was mind-blowing to watch!
Prior to Genius Junior, Vivek was on Child Genius in 2015 but the team aspect of Genius Junior provided a fun, unique dynamic with fewer rounds and the ability to play on the strengths of the trio of teammates.
Vivek’s team chose the team name 27 Yards to play on the phrase “the whole 9 yards.” When you tune in this weekend, pay close attention to the math and memory portions, as these were Vivek’s favorite rounds.
Vivek knew of the host, Neil Patrick Harris, from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix and was impressed with the Olaf tattoo on his ankle. Neil was really great with the child contestants and kept everyone at ease with his humor.
Looking to Vivek’s Future
Vivek worked with the Illinois State University professors and PhD students on The Mind Project which sparked his passion in how artificial intelligence can be practically applied to everyday life.
Vivek wants to be an astrophysicist, which would allow him to work with astronomy, physics, and math. Specifically, he wants to bring AI into astronomy to “see what it can do.”
He acknowledges that AI can seem risky to the layman, also pointing out that many jobs and items are becoming safer due to AI.
“Usually people are scared of AI from movies like The Terminator or I, Robot. Hollywood physics and logic. AI tends to be the villain, but it can be good. People should take a more logical point of view with AI.”
If the opportunity arises at some point, Vivek is open to doing another TV show as they’re becoming less stressful with each experience. He’s a pro now!