This 13-year-old just graduated college!

Elliott Tanner received his degree in physics from the University of Minnesota
Elliott Tanner poses outside the University of Minnesota on the day of his graduation. (Michelle Tanner)


May 7 to 22 is Science Odyssey, a celebration of all things science! OWLconnected is recognizing this two-week event with lots of science content, as well as with an amazing contest, presented by our friends at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Details are at the end of this post—be sure to enter!

Way ahead of schedule!

It's officially deep into springtime in North America. A time when school years are either winding to a close or—in a lot of universities and colleges—already ended.

For many 13-year-olds, this is usually where you're about to graduate middle school and thinking about your next big challenge ... high school!

But if you're Elliott Tanner, you've just graduated from a different, slightly more advanced institution. College!

That's right. This brilliant 13-year-old has stunned professors and classmates at the University of Minnesota by completing his bachelor degree in physics, with a minor in mathematics. "I feel ecstatic," he told Live Science in an interview with him and his parents.

Now that is a Science Odyssey!

Ready from the start

From the very start, Elliott's capacity for learning was huge. His parents said that they noticed his gifts in language and math before he even began school. By the time he entered kindergarten, it was clear to them that he needed a different level of education.

So they took him out of school and began to homeschool him. And he responded by learning everything he could. And quickly!

"Elliott ended up learning and consuming information quicker than we could provide it," said his mother, Michelle, in the interview. "His room was filled with textbooks that he would read immediately."

By age 9, he had already completed all of the high school curriculum (required learning) that his parents could find for him. What was next? So they decided to enroll him in the local community college.

The college kid

Elliott's love of math has served him well in college! (Michelle Tanner)

According to Elliott, the community college was where he discovered physics. This is the study of the physical properties of matter. Gravity, atomic forces, how energy behaves ... Basically how the universe behaves, from the unbelievably tiny to the astonishingly huge. And Elliott loved it.

"I was exposed to a physics class that really intrigued and inspired me to learn more about the secrets of the world," he recalled. And so he began attending daily classes alongside fellow students who were literally twice his age. And two years later, at age 11, he began attending an even bigger school—the University of Minnesota.

Go fund him

And, incredibly, two years after that, Elliott Tanner is a college graduate from that university. What is maybe the most inspiring thing about him is that he's found a way to excel at such a challenging school while also doing normal kid stuff.

This includes playing Dungeons and Dragons and board games, going to amusement parks, dressing up in homemade armour, and whatever else a kid wants to do with his friends. Despite now aiming to earn his doctorate (and higher level of specialized education after graduation), he's finding the time to hang out.

It sounds like a charmed life, and it honestly is! But Elliott does have one big challenge ahead of him—affording his doctorate degree. Because even though he has been accepted to the program, it comes with a hefty price tag of $90,000 US. And his parents have been caught off guard by how quickly their son has sped through school and has not been able to save up enough.

As of now, they have started a GoFundMe page to help Elliott realize his ambitions in physics. We hope that he is able to attend—a mind that brilliant deserves to go as far as it can.

Congrats, Elliott. You're a real inspiration!

Contest alert

Don't forget to enter the Science Odyssey Contest! CLICK HERE TO ENTER.


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