A Prodigy Is Headed to College at 12 and Hopes to Join NASA at 16

Caleb Anderson, a 12-year-old child prodigy, began his second year at Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, Georgia, studying aerospace engineering in October of 2020. Then, in July of this year, we told you about Laurent Simons, who, at the age of 11, had graduated from Belgium’s University of Antwerp with a bachelor’s degree in physics, making him one of the world’s youngest college graduates.

If those two cases weren’t enough to make you feel like a failure, there’s now word of another kid genius. Alena Wicker, a 12-year-old who has been accepted to Arizona State University (ASU) and hopes to become a NASA engineer by the age of 16, was profiled by the Associated Press.

“I always dreamed of being an engineer because, throughout my life, I liked building,” Wicker told Phoenix TV station KPNX. 

Her talent for building and engineering things began as a toddler, when she created outstanding LEGO structures. She made the Taj Mahal, the Disney castle, a NASA rocket, the Apollo 11, and the Millennium Falcon, all of which were complicated projects for such a young person.

Wicker’s favorite project was this one, which she completed in 14 to 15 hours over two days. She didn’t get much sleep because she was so focused on completing the ambitious endeavor.

Alena’s mother stated that she felt obligated to encourage her daughter’s early abilities. “She just had a gift for numbers and LEGOs and science so I started nurturing that gift,” said Daphne McQuarter. “At 4 years old she said, ‘I’m going to work at NASA and I’m going to go up there.’ She would point to the stars.”

According to BCK Online, there are five ways to spot a kid genius. They have a tremendous desire to master a skill at a young age, they have advanced talent in a certain profession, they have a highly functional working memory, and they have a hard time relating to kids their age due to being advanced than their classmates.

Psychologists have long contested what makes a prodigy, with some claiming that given the correct circumstances, anyone can become a prodigy.

According to Scientific American, recent research reveals that basic cognitive ability impacted by genetic variables also play a substantial role in prodigious accomplishment.

One of the common traits among prodigies in art, music, and math, according to researchers, is better working memory.

Furthermore, prodigies demonstrate the “rage to master,” according to developmental psychologist Ellen Winner, because of their remarkable commitment to their specific subject, they may lose sight of the outer world as they focus hard on tasks.

Finally, psychologists believe that extraordinary achievement in a subject is a result of a combination of environmental and hereditary factors.

Alena will be double-majoring in astronomy and planetary science and chemistry at ASU in the near future, and she appears to be on her way to the stars!

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