Child Genius contestants faced off for the final competition Tuesday night on the Lifetime channel. The eight-week television series, hosted by former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, had 20 gifted American children between the ages of 8 and 12; compete for $100,000 to go towards their college education.
Tuesday night's first place winner was Vanya Shivashankar, a 12-year-old from Olathe, Kansas.
The Child Genius finale did not go without a little controversy. The season-ending episode started out with four competitors, Vanya Shivashankar, Yeji Cho, Graham Curtsinger, and Katherine He. In the first round, the four finalists were to answer up to 25 questions correctly in the course of five minutes. The child with the most accurate answers advanced to the final round of competition.The first of the four remaining Child Genius challengers to be quizzed was Katherine He. In the first round, the 11-year-old from Rancho Palos Verdes, California was eliminated because she correctly answered seven questions, the lowest amount of accurate answers in the small group of child competitors.
Following the decisions that Katherine was eliminated, her father approached the judges and tried to point out that the contest was unfair because his daughter was at a disadvantage since she was the first to be judged.
Katherine's father stated the other contestants had a better reference point knowing Katherine only had seven correct answers. Since her competitors knew they had to provide only eight or more correct answers, they could pass on a question they felt would take up too much time, giving them an added advantage Katherine did not have.
Nevertheless, the three remaining Child Genius contestants moved on to the final elimination where each child had up to 50 questions to answer correctly in 10 minutes. The Child Genius judges quizzed each child's knowledge pertaining to zoology, math, logic, the human body, earth science, spelling geography, and memory to name a few.
In the Child Genius final round, Graham Curtsinger, a 10-year-old from Verdigris, Oklahoma, correctly answered 18 out of 50 questions, finishing in third place and winning $5,000 for his college education.
The second-place winner was 11-year-old Yeji Cho from Rolling Hills Estates, California. She correctly answered 24 out of 50 questions winning a second place trophy and a $10,000 college scholarship.
The Child Genius grand prize of $100,000 went to Vanya Shivashankar for successfully answering 30 out of 50 questions.
Vanya is an avid speller having been in three Scripps National Spelling Bee competitions. Vanya's goal is to be a cardiac surgeon. According to Lifetime, her interests include reading her extensive list of more than 200 novels a least four times, playing with her dog, bike riding, and of course, brain games.Vanya's mother is Sandy Shivashankar, a software QA manager; her father is Miller, a consulting IT manager and Quality Assurance Control.
The young and upcoming Vanya Shivashankar and Child Genius $100,000 grand prize winner looks to have a bright future.