The phrase ‘genius’ gets thrown around a lot these days and ahhh, what we would do to be considered a genius! Unfortunately, our intelligence and natural ability stops after the 3rd decimal of Pi – although we are exceptionally skilled in eating a yummy apple tart.
Throughout history, there have been obvious geniuses who have changed the course of the world. There was Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity. There was Michelangelo with his Sistine Chapel. There was Rene Descartes and his modern philosophy. And there was Leonardo Da Vinci and his renaissance inventions.
However, there is much more to being a genius than simply bringing something new and exciting to the table. To be classified as a genius, one must have a high intelligence quotient (IQ) – to be exact; one must have an IQ score of around 140/145 to be classified as a genius. So, let’s have a gander at some of these historical figures and their IQs: Albert Einstein had an IQ of 160, Michelangelo had an IQ of 177, Rene Descartes had an IQ of 180, and Leonardo Da Vinci had an IQ of 200.
You now might be thinking… “well, how the heck do we compete with that?” Well, it’s totally possible. Nowadays, the world is full of geniuses – but you might know them as MENSA members. MENSA is the world’s oldest and largest IQ society, and its members are some of the most intelligent people in the world, with IQs that score in the 98th percentile or more. Today, the world is made up of around 134,000 Mensans, and around 2,600 of those members are under the age of 18. Yep, you heard that right! In fact, one of the most prolific members of MENSA is just 11-years-old. So if you’ve ever fancied yourself or your child as a genius, take a look inside the mind of Jaxon Cota, an 11-year-old kid genius…
From the outside, Jaxon looks like your average kid. This little Texan loves to spend time outside, he enjoys playing Baseball, he watches cartoons, and he loves hanging out with his friends. However, Jaxon Cota is a little different to your average pre-teen. Yep, Jaxon Cota has become an internet sensation across the globe, as this little dude is a certified genius, and one of the youngest members of MENSA. We hate to say it, but there’s a high chance this 11-year-old is smarter than you (sorry, guys).
A member of MENSA
It’s no secret that some of the smartest men and women of history have been members of MENSA – an elite group of geniuses who have all proven they have impressive IQs. To become a member of MENSA, applicants needs to prove that they have an IQ score in the 98th percentile, which means they are in the top 2% of society. When he was just nine years old, Jaxon Cota was accepted into MENSA with an IQ of 148. Not that we’re jealous or anything *ahem*…
The early years
According to Matt and Lori Cota, Jaxon’s parents, their child prodigy showed his genius from a young age. In fact, they knew there was something different about Jaxon before he had reached his second birthday. While other toddlers around them struggled to speak or comprehend language, Jaxon had already mastered communication – and had moved onto numbers. As you do. Lori Cota remembers one instance where her two-year-old son suddenly said ‘78’ when he was in the kitchen.
Looking past his mother
When Jaxon blurted out this number, Lori didn’t know what to make of it. Was this just a random noise that sounded just like the number? Or had her toddler really spoken the number seventy eight? As she pondered this question, Lori looked at her son – and realized that he was looking past his mother. Lori followed his gaze and saw that he was staring at the thermostat that sat on the wall. The number on the thermostat read ‘78.’ A couple of minutes later, Jaxon blurted out the number ‘350.’ Naturally, Lori was completely taken aback, and we don’t blame her! However, the biggest shock was to come…
Adding the numbers
Ignoring her shock, Lori decided to test her son. So, she grabbed the nearest napkin and wrote down ‘350’ in numerical value. As if by magic, Jaxon repeated the number to her. She then added 1 to the number, to make ‘1350.’ Once again, Jaxon repeated the number to his mother. Lori continued this task until her napkin was completely full of numbers – and Jaxon was able to read back every single number asked of him. At this point, she knew her son was something special.
After making this incredible discovery, Lori and Matt Cota decided to watch their son with a closer eye, to see if he had exceptional skills in other areas. Luckily for Jaxon – it seemed there was nothing he couldn’t do! As he got older, his parents began to notice that he was always hyper-focused on the task in front of him. Rather than playing with trucks in a disorderly fashion like most children, Jaxon would ignore the trucks altogether and focus on sorting shapes into categories. He absolutely loved order.
A fascination with numbers
As they watched their gifted son develop, Lori and Matt Cota noticed Jaxon had a love for all things mathematical. At just two-years-old, Jaxon could read numbers with fifteen digits, and he knew his times tables just a few years later (something we still struggle to do today). His love for mathematics became clear, not only to his parents and those around him but also to his teachers – who soon realized they had a genius in their midst.
Gifted and talented
As Jaxon continued to excel in school, his teachers urged Jaxon to take the tests required to become part of his school’s gifted and talented program. Of course, he passed all of the entrance exams for the program – but the congratulations didn’t stop there. Somehow, MENSA had received Jaxon’s test scores from the gifted and talented exams and wanted him to join their ranks. The family then sent off Jaxon’s application, and he was accepted into MENSA at just 9-years-old. Wowza.
A love for rhythm
Now a member of MENSA, Jaxon Cota continued to use his genius and improve his intelligence with further study and practice. However, there was always one topic that stood out for Jaxon – mathematics. Matt Cota, Jaxon’s dad, believes that his son connects with the rhythm of numbers. Because of this rhythm, Jaxon finds mathematics incredibly simple and easy to understand. He grasps the concepts of algebra, geometry and degree-level problems with ease because that’s how he looks at everyday scenarios. For Jaxon, maths is everywhere; in the supermarkets, in construction, and in daily life.
Although mathematics is all fun and games for Jaxon (wish we could say the same thing), there is a competitive streak to his nature. Every year, he takes part in numerous math competitions through his school and his own desire, to test his ability and go up against kids his own age, and those who are older than him. One of these competitions is MathCon – a nationally-recognized mathematics competition that tests students on their mental arithmetic.
The MathCON competition is available for students across grades 5 – 12 throughout the United States, and tests them on their mathematical ability. At just 11-years-old, Jaxon Cota competed against 45,000 students – to a whopping result. Yep, it’s no surprise that Jaxon absolutely smashed the competition, and finished in 7th place. Considering he was up against students much older than him, 7th place is incredibly impressive and showed everyone that he is a force to contend with in the world of mathematics.
A natural instinct
However, Jaxon Cota puts his talent and his mathematical ability down to a natural instinct. From an early age, he knew how to read numbers up to incredibly high digits without really thinking about it – because he had this innate ability to understand what was in front of him. He is often able to complete college-level sums without the help of a calculator or extra help. Well, we sure wouldn’t mind a natural instinct like that every now and then.
A sporty passion
One of the main reasons Jaxon loves mathematics is because it can be found everywhere. Wherever he goes, Jaxon will find angles, walls, or aspects of a building or street that will encompass mathematics. However, when he’s not investigating architecture, Jaxon mixes his love for mathematics for his other passion – baseball. Jaxon has always loved to play baseball. Not only does this sport keep him active and healthy, but it also keeps his brain whirring.
A thinking game
In a recent interview with NBC News, Jaxon Cota reported that he feels happiest when he is on the baseball diamond. He loves to play baseball in his free time because there is naturally a lot of thinking that goes into a game of baseball – there are statistics, numbers, and strategy to where all of the players need to be at certain moments. When he’s not smashing the competition at math competitions, Jaxon will often play baseball with his father to clear his head for his next mathematical problem.
Rube Goldberg Machines
Unlike many youngsters, Jaxon doesn’t spend all his free time playing video games or hanging out at the mall. Instead, Jaxon has his own way to unwind – he loves to build Rube Goldberg Machines. If you’re not sure what a Rube Goldberg Machine is… don’t worry, because we didn’t either! Nevertheless, you probably have seen one before. A Rube Goldberg Machine is a complicated system, whereby one device triggers another (like a set of dominos) in a sequence…
A complex design
Jaxon can often be found drawing up blueprints for his Rube Goldberg Machines, as he is obsessed with creating the perfect machine on the first try. He plans every aspect of the machine with incredible detail and tests the machines numerous times before he gives it a go. Normally, his machine will involve Jenga blocks, DVD cases, makeshift slides, catapults – to get the ball from one end of his house into a pot at the bottom of the stairs.
Trial and error
When Jaxon is making these Rube Goldberg Machines, it’s rare for him to get it perfect every time – and it will normally take him 4 or 5 attempts for it to work. However, Jaxon knows the process is all about trial and error. In fact, Jaxon sees these attempts as a metaphor for life. One of the main aspects of life is making mistakes, but if you pick yourself up again and repair yourself, you’ll get to the end goal eventually. Yep, this guy is pretty darn smart…
A hearing impairment
Despite his incredible talent and genius status, Jaxon hasn’t always had it easy. Jaxon was actually born with a hearing impairment and has partial hearing loss. However, this condition was only discovered when he was 8-years-old. Thankfully, this hearing impairment has not hindered Jaxon’s life. In fact, Lori Cota maintains that the condition has actually heightened many of his other senses, which increases his creativity – so much so, that she actually forgets he has this impairment.
His coping skills
Of course, a hearing impairment does affect Jaxon in certain aspects of his life. The 11-year-old has numerous coping skills to restrict the limitations of the hearing impairment, and will normally look at the mouth of the person who is speaking to him. Although he can partially hear what the person is saying, he reads their lips to see what they are saying, to back up what he can hear. This way, he will know exactly what they are saying and will be able to construct his response carefully and correctly.
A big decision
As Jaxon gets older, Lori and Matt Cota are faced with a big decision. Many of the people around them wonder about Jaxon and his schooling – and wonder whether he should still be studying in state schools. They worry he’s not in the right grade for his intelligence. However, Jaxon’s parents have always maintained their own, solid beliefs. Although their son is arguably incredibly gifted and knows his times tables, he cannot tie his shoes. They want Jaxon to have an impact on people, without taking away general social skills.
The opportunity to skip grades
At 11-years-old and with an IQ of 148, Jaxon Cota has had the opportunity to skip grades. Lori and Matt Cota are against this idea – but they ultimately let the decision lie in Jaxon’s hands. Did he want to skip grades and go to school with people who are of the same intelligence grade as him? Or did he want to stay with his peers, and grow up learning the same things as people his age? For the time being, Jaxon wants to stay in sixth grade.
Early college career
Because of his incredible talent, Jaxon Cota has even been offered the opportunity to get his college degree earlier than most people. However, his parents believe this experience at such an early age would stint his ability to interact with people, and his ability to have a normal childhood. Jaxon completely agrees with his parents on this matter. After an academic competition, Jaxon once said that his intelligence ‘doesn’t define who I am.’ Jaxon is so much more than an intelligent mathematician – he is a real kid who needs a real life. Hear, hear!
A normal kid
Jaxon has been very vocal about his experience in life – and the decisions he has made in regards to his education and career. Many critics disagree with his decision to stay in his age grade and wait to go to college, but Jaxon maintains that he wants to be a normal kid. If he graduated from college at 11-years-old, he would not be able to play with his friends in the playground or play baseball on the weekends with his father.
Although he has made the decision to continue living as a normal kid, Jaxon Cota is no ordinary 11-year-old. So, special measures will be in place as he starts sixth grade this fall. Jaxon will continue to take classes with his peers but will receive special instruction outside of his normal subjects to test him and push his limits. This extra work will keep him challenged and keep up his genius status, so he can wow the intellectual world when he is ready!
An incredible life
At 11-years-old, Jaxon Cato is one of the smartest people in the whole world – in fact, he’s in the top two percentile! Although he has chosen to enjoy his teenage years and go to college with his peers, we have high hopes for the child genius. Perhaps he may follow in the footsteps of those with similar IQs, including Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking – or perhaps he may create his own path. Either way, we can’t wait to see what Jaxon Cato gets up to in the future!