Category Archives: Whiz kids

The Alabama teen who won $100,000 in top US quiz show!

Indian-American Sharath Narayan defeated two other finalists to bag ‘Jeopardy! Teen tournament’, the most coveted quiz show of the country


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An Indian-American teenage boy has won $100,000 in a top US quiz show, reports PTI. Sharath Narayan, a sophomore from Madison, Alabama, won Jeopardy! Teen tournament, the most coveted quiz show of the country by defeating two other finalists Alex Fischthal and Michael Borecki, who came second and third, respectively.

Hosted by long-time host Alex Trebek, Jeopardy! attracts 23 million viewers each week and is in its 33rd season. Sharath won the game by the slimmest of margins: one dollar, a media release said.

“I’d still like to go on a trip to Europe with my family (maybe Italy or Germany), but the majority of it will probably go towards taxes and college tuition,” he was quoted as saying after winning the award.

“I’m definitely more confident since I won the tournament, and it has showed me that I can surprise myself and accomplish things that I never would have thought of,” he added.

The final of the show was taped earlier this year, but broadcast on Monday and Tuesday.

Pic courtesy: Twitter


This Edinburgh toddler knows the capitals of 196 countries!

At an age when other children her age are learning to walk, two-year-old Rakshitha is busy making us feel worse about your lives 🙂

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IT ALL started during an 11-hour plane journey when Rakshitha’s father Ramesh Kumar, 33, and mother Kavitha, 30, tried to keep the two-year-old occupied by learning the capitals of India, Britain and a handful of other major world countries.

“My wife and daughters came over from India to the UK in March and on the flight we were keeping Rakshitha occupied, telling her that the capital of India was New Delhi and the place we were going to was London,” Ramesh a project manager with Royal Bank of Scotland, toldThe Mirror.

To their astonishment, she was able to memorise every capital they mentioned. Intrigued, the family bought a colourful children’s book listing 30 of the world’s better known capital cities. Within a week, angelic Rakshitha had learned all 30 off by heart. And now, she can recite the capital cities of 196 countries after just three months of learning and memorising.

When her mother or father call out the name of a country, little Rakshitha answers back with the right city. And videos uploaded to YouTube by Kavitha show Rakshitha naming capitals as though it was as easy as saying one, two, three.

At an age when other children her age are learning to walk, Rakshitha is busy making us feel worse about our lives. Oh, and she can do it under five minutes.

It’s not just capital cities Rakshitha can remember – she knows nursery rhymes and lullabies word perfect too. Ramesh told The Mirror: “Even when I sing her a lullaby and I think she’s sleeping, the next day she’ll be up and about singing it back to me.”

Pic courtesy: Centre Press

Australian cricket’s next big thing

Meet Arjun Nair, the Canberra-born son of Indian immigrants who has taken the junior cricket ranks of New South Wales by storm

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He made his first grade debut at the age of just 15 and two years later he’s already played for Australia at Under-19 level and made his Sheffield Shield debut for New South Wales (NSW). Sheffield Shield is the domestic first-class cricket competition of Australia. The tournament is contested between teams from the six states of Australia.

Having started out as a batsman who bowls occasional leg-spinners, Nair harbours hopes of becoming the next big spinner from the land of the Kangaroos. Ask him how this change came about, and the 18-year-old blows the mind away with his response.

“I made the grade back home mostly through my batting, but I also bowled leg-spin once in a while. However, I started watching YouTube videos of Sunil Narine and R Ashwin, and their bowling really caught my imagination. That’s when I started practising off-spin in my backyard. I used to bowl a lot to my father and beat him quite often with my deliveries. That’s when the thought of concentrating on off-spin came to mind,” Nair, who has modelled himself on Narine, told The New Indian Express.

His father Jayanand, a former hockey player in India, has been a big influence on him taking up cricket. “I started playing when I was four. I and my dad used to play in our backyard at our Sydney home. He has been vital in my development and in me taking up the sport. He always said that sports was as important as studies, and didn’t let me miss matches even if that meant skipping studies,” Nair said.

For most of the next decade since he tossed his first ball at four, batting was the path Nair followed, and handy scores in his first two Shield matches for the Blues showed there is talent in both disciplines – numerous good judges in NSW think his batting may yet overtake his bowling.

But the breakthrough from junior and club cricket for Hawkesbury in the Sydney grade competition arrived after Nair began slowing down those aforementioned YouTube clips. He practised his variations in a compact backyard net constructed at the family home in the western Sydney suburb of Girraween, over time adding more pace, power and revolutions.

“I was mainly a batsman who bowled part-time leggies,” Nair told ESPNCricInfo. “Then I started watching a bit of YouTube, clips of guys bowling carrom balls and stuff. I’d watch clips of past matches, slow it down, watch replays and pick things up here and there. I started trying that for fun at the backyard with my dad and he couldn’t pick it. At first I couldn’t get many revs on the carrom ball, but over time and getting used to it, I’ve started to get more on it and my accuracy has improved,” he added.

Pic courtesy: Helen Nezdropa/Hawkesbury Gazette

How a Texan teen is taking LED bulbs to the poor

Meera Vashisht, a 13-year-old Indian-origin girl living in the US, raises Rs 1.4 lakh through crowdfunding

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When Meera Vashisht learnt about India’s ‘Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for all’ (UJALA) programme while working on her 7th-class science project in her hometown Texas in the US, she began to think whether it would be really possible for the country’s underprivileged to replace their incandescent bulbs with LED lamps that are over seven times as expensive?

The 13-year-old Indian-origin girl, who was born and brought up in the US and is a seventh grader in Sartartia Middle School in Sugar Land, Texas, then got down to drafting a letter which she sent out to “random people that I could find in our family phone book”, explaining the government’s objective of reducing greenhouse gases as well as taking electricity to the poorest villages in India.

So far, Vashisht has reportedly collected $2,079.51 with the help of her parents and reached out to 500 people in her vicinity in Houston, Texas, as per reports.

She purchased LED bulbs from the Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), the implementing agency for UJALA, and distributed them to residents of JJ clusters in Keshavpuram in New Delhi recently.

Six hundred families will benefit from 1,800 LED bulbs to be provided under the UJALA scheme from the funds collected by Vashisht. “LED bulbs use less than half the energy of an incandescent bulb and runs for over seven to eight years. I am very happy to have been able to carry out the distribution of LED bulbs and hope to inspire young minds across the globe for working towards energy efficiency,” she told PTI.

Vashisht also believes that her effort will result in lighting up 46 houses for one year, reducing electricity bills by Rs 2,500 and most importantly there will be significant reduction in CO2 emissions every year.

Under UJALA, over 12.60 crore LED bulbs have already been distributed across India, which is leading to a daily energy savings of about 4.48 crore kWh and resulting in avoidance of about 3,278 MW of peak demand, as per government reports. Through the scheme, the estimated cumulative cost reduction of bills of consumers, per day, is Rs. 17.94 crore and is part of the governments efforts to spread the message of energy efficiency in the country.

Born to a Punjabi father and Kashmiri mother, Vashisht says she often has India on her mind — its people, the hustle and bustle in the bazaars, festivals, her ancestral home in Punjab and, above all, the “feeling of belonging and the smiles from everyone”, she told ET Magazine.

“The joy of participating in Diwali, Holi and other colourful festivals rejuvenates me,” she said, adding that she is connected to India every moment because of her ongoing training in Bharatnatyam and Hindustani classical music. Vashisht also plays the flute in her school band.

Pics courtesy: Facebook/EESL

Will she become Britain’s brainiest youngster?

Indian-origin girl Rhea among child geniuses on British TV show

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Do you know what xerophthalmia means and can you spell it? Without using a calculator, can you work out the answer to 24 + 57 + 163, divided by 4 X 5? The child prodigy Rhea can, and she is only nine.

Child Genius – a British TV show in which children compete with each other for the crown of the brainiest among them all has a special contestant this season. Rhea, who is of Indian origin, will be competing with 15 other kids on the show, which has challenges such as memorising 155 UK train stations. The series kicked off on Channel 4 last week.

As per The Sunday Times, Rhea has been preparing for this challenge on TV by studying 10 hours a day. Also as a warm-up exercise before the contest she beat 8,000 children to earn a national art prize. “Doing Child Genius was probably the most incredible experience of my life. It was tense at times but it was incredible. I have made friends with some of the children,” Rhea told the newspaper.

Her driving force is her mother Sonal who went to university at 16, and believes that Rhea will do well on the show. She shoots down suggestions that such shows put undue pressure on young kids. “The school did not have a programme for gifted kids, so they designed one. Now she reads GCSE-level books for stimulation. We are starting to get advice on her taking GCSEs early,” said Sonal.

“Rhea loved doing it. The show gives them a chance to be with kids like them, to be in that room and feel normal,” she added.

For those of you who are unaware of what Child Genius is, it is a brain quest between 20 incredible minds aged 8 to 12 years. A short series of five episodes revolves around the lives of children and their families, exploring ways by which parent raise their ‘gifted children’.


Rhea with parents Anish and Sonal: she has been studying for up to 10 hours a day;

Pic courtesy: Stephen Wells/