While other kids his age were wrapping up their middle school years and looking forward to summer camp, Elliott Tanner was graduating from the University of Minnesota. In May, at age 13, he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics with a minor in math. In the fall, he’ll return to the university to start his doctoral degree.
Elliott’s stunning intellect was evident early on. By age two, he knew the alphabet. “And then he learned it in Swedish right after that,” his father says.
At age three, Elliott carried around magnetic numbers instead of stuffed animals. He would spread them out on his play rug and add.
While other five-year-olds were talking about superheroes, Elliott was memorizing the periodic table—including the weights and atomic masses of every element.
After one year in kindergarten, Elliott’s parents started homeschooling. They couldn’t keep up with him. “He was done with algebra in a month and done with geometry in two weeks,” his mom says.
He frequently chose to spend birthday money on books instead of toys or games. His bedroom became packed with textbooks, which he read with lightning speed.
Elliott was classified as “profoundly gifted” on an IQ test at age six. His family believes genetics plays a role. His mom considers his father a musical genius. And Elliott’s paternal grandfather is a “super-smart” civil engineer who taught himself six languages.
By age nine, Elliott became a full-time student at Normandale Community College. Fellow students were initially shocked to see him in their classes. But they quickly adjusted. Elliott rolled with it, “For me, it was just normal. Everyone was really kind to me.”
Elliott hopes to earn his doctorate (Ph.D.) in five or six years. His long-term goal is to stay at the university and become a physics professor. He is eager to share the “joy of physics.”
Both his parents are self-employed. His mom is a photographer, and his dad is a musician. They didn’t plan on having to save for his college fund so soon.
No financial aid was offered by the university. The Tanners expect the doctoral program to cost close to $90,000. Thanks to generous donations to a GoFundMe page, Elliott now has his first two years covered.
While Elliott is famous for his incredible mind, his mom notes that his kindness is essential to his character. “He inspires us to be better people every day.”
Why? Like Elliott, each of us has distinct gifts given to us by God. All are remarkable! May God use your gifts for your good and the benefit of others.