‘Child Genius’ Returns With New Challenges For America’s Brightest Kids

One of Lifetime’s most popular series, Child Genius: Battle of the Brightest, returns with a new batch of 12 gifted and intelligent children. The format is the same as last season, where each week the competitors will face off against each other in two rounds. The first week’s episode, titled “I’m the Fun Parent,” covers the topics of math and memory.

Child Genius was created in cooperation with American Mensa and will take place over 10 weeks. The winning child will receive a $100,000 college fund and earn the title of Child Genius 2016. Leland Melvin, a former NASA astronaut, returns as the show’s host. Once again, there will also be a panel of judges.


This season, the children competing in the Child Genius challenges range in ages from 9 to 12, and no matter what their age, they will find themselves studying for each round for hours on end. Besides having to do some serious studying on topics such as geography, spelling, and current events, they will have to learn to deal with what may be one of the most stressful and difficult situations they’ve ever faced in their young lives so far. They may be smart, but they’re still children, and the rigors of the Child Genius competition will definitely affect them and their families as well.

Speaking of families, the Child Genius contestants will also have to deal with a lot of input from their parents. If the first season taught this new crop of parents anything, it should be to not push their Child Genius children too hard. These brainiacs are already driven to succeed, and the only thing most of them need is a gentle and supportive hand, which was a lot more effective last season. Previously on Child Genius, there were a few parents who continuously hounded their child, causing them to feel overwhelmed and obviously burned out by the end of last season’s competition.

Broadway World shared the names, ages, hometowns, and what they describe as the “mark of genius” of each Child Genius contestant. The Lifetime website also provided additional information on each child.

Arnav is nine-years-old and from Dobbs Ferry, New York. This Child Genius participant loves to read and memorize all sorts of facts, which should serve him well in the competition. He also enjoys extracurricular activities such as swimming, tennis and playing chess. Arnav is described as a budding mathematician and scientist.

Nine-year-old Selah hails from Kissimmee, Florida, and is known for her laughter, humor, and vivid imagination. Selah would like to become a surgeon or a geologist. This Child Genius challenger skipped first grade and reads five years above her grade level.

Vivek is also 9-years-old and lives in Bloomington, Illinois. Besides maxing out an IQ test, this Child Genius competitor also has a perfect score on his latest ACT exam. He stays busy with college-level courses and enjoys science. He also is involved in several extracurricular activities such as attending weekend classes at Northwestern University, playing the viola, and practicing the art of Taekwondo. He wants to become an astrophysicist when he grows up.

Adrian is 10-years-old and is from Peachtree City, Georgia. Some viewers may recognize this musical prodigy from America’s Got Talent. Playing the piano since he was 4, this Child Genius contestant has also played at the prestigious Carnegie Hall. Adrian skipped six grades and is currently in high school. Adrian may have an advantage over some of the other children due to his experience performing in front of an audience, which taught him to work under pressure.

Ten-year-old Chancellor is from Stuart, Florida, and by the time he was 3, he memorized all of the U.S. Presidents and knew where all 50 states and their capitals were located on a map. This Child Genius hopeful is home schooled but has tutors for economics, physics, and chemistry. He enjoys other activities such as playing the guitar, taking Taekwondo lessons, and playing basketball. He would like to become a software developer when he grows up.

Claire is 10-years-old and lives in Arcadia, California. She is described as a “talkative and bubbly” girl with a lot of energy and a thirst for knowledge. This Child Genius competitor sees school as a place to socialize and play. The real work happens when she gets home and begins her real studies in technology, piano, and math. Her memory is impressive and she can work well under pressure.

Drake is 10-years-old and hails from Los Altos Hills, California. Drake is a fraternal twin who loves sports. He has the lofty goal of earning a tennis scholarship to an Ivy League school. He attends the Harken School, where he excels at math and is ahead on all subjects. His parents have worked to instill a good work ethic in Drake, which should serve him well during the difficult Child Genius competition.

Ten-year-old Gianna lives in Denver, Colorado, and is a Mensa member who was reading at the high school level while in the second grade. This Child Genius challenger excels in several subjects including math, science, and reading. Due to her impressive accomplishments, she earned a spot at the prestigious Aurora Quest School.

Iris is 11-years-old and resides in San Antonio, Texas. This Child Genius contestant has made language arts her main focus. She is taking university level courses online and is enrolled in weekend enrichment classes in math and chemistry. She won a writing competition with her very first novel and is a Davidson Young Scholar.

Eleven-year-old Jaden lives in Chico, California, and has a very nontraditional approach to schooling. He is allowed to select his own curriculum and does very little textbook work. While attending public school, this Child Genius challenger was an honor roll student, but his parents worried that his creativity and freedom were being stifled in a traditional school setting. His main interests are music, math, and cooking.

Jenna is also 11-years-old and, like Iris, hails from San Antonio, Texas. This Child Genius competitor has an “off-the-charts” IQ score, and being strong willed and self-directed has served her well. Her interests include astronomy, black holes, and how the earth was formed. Jenna is in the Duke TIP Program and previously attended the University of Texas Summer Institute for the Gifted, the Texas State Edwards Aquifer Research Summer Camp, and is a member of Mensa.

Sam is 12-years-old and lives in Sugar Land, Texas. He is also in the Duke TIP program and is fluent in Russian and French, thanks to language school. This Child Genius participant comes from a high-achieving family; his parents hold multiple advanced degrees and have made sure to fill Sam’s life with enriching activities. His main interests include science and math, and he has competed against eighth-grade students in math competitions.

Each child will be bringing their own unique skill sets and talents to the Child Genius competition. How they handle the stress will play a big factor on their performance. Vanya Shivashankar, the first Child Genius winner, can attest to that. She tried to stay relaxed and calm during each round, and for her, it paid off in a big way. The 13-year-old, who is from Olathe, Kansas, told the TV Page that she returned to Child Genius to tape a segment where she has the role of mentor for the new competitors.

“I just told them to enjoy the experience and not to worry about the outcome or anything,” Vanya said during her taped interview. “You have to make the competition fun. Not just think it is scary or ‘I am not going to do well.’ That is the mindset I had when I was competing. So I just carry that through and I gave them that advice.”

She didn’t stop at the Child Genius competition, however. Vanya recently became the co-champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee and is now attending high school. She stated that she is excited to go to a new school and to be in a new environment.

Did you watch the Child Genius series last season? Leave your comments, thoughts, and opinions below. The Child Genius: Battle for the Brightest returns on Thursday, January 7, 2016, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the Lifetime Channel.

[Image via Starcasm/Twitter, cropped and resized]