He's 13, Going for His Doctorate in Physics

Minnesota's Elliott Tanner is OK with the 'Young Sheldon' comparisons
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2022 11:12 AM CDT
He's 13, Going for His Doctorate in Physics
Elliott Tanner, in a screenshot from video from an interview with Minnesota's WCCO.   (YouTube/WCCO of Minnesota)

Elliott Tanner's parents enrolled him in kindergarten at age 5, but it wasn't long before educators realized he wasn't kindergarten material—he was just too smart. "He was talking about particle accelerators when he was 5 years old, when other kids were pretending to be Superman on the playground," his mother, Michelle, tells Live Science. Flash forward eight years: The 13-year-old has just graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in physics and a minor in mathematics, and with plans to pursue his doctorate at the same school. "I have an incredible passion for physics," Elliott tells the AP. "It's been one of my favorite things to do."

And, yes, he's heard all the Young Sheldon jokes, references to the physics prodigy portrayed in the sitcom of the same name. In fact, WCCO reports that Elliott visited the set and has become friends with young actor Iain Armitage. "Young Sheldon has shown some of the hardships I have faced," Elliott tells Live Science. "And I do appreciate seeing other gifted people on shows." One hiccup: Elliott isn't getting any of the standard financial help from the university for this doctorate studies, in part because the school is leery about giving him teaching duties given his age. His parents have set up a GoFundMe to defray costs, and supporters have pitched in more than $40,000 so far. The entire program will likely cost about $90,000 to complete. (More child prodigy stories.)

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