The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, June 21, 2007

People Tonight, Philippine News

On Saturday, 16th May, 2007, People Tonight, a Philippino mass circulation newspaper, carried an article on Ainan. It has just appeared today on their website in the miscellaneous section, though it may only be there for a day.

Child prodigy, 7, passes tough UK chemistry exam

THIS is one seven-year-old boy that would make both Asians and Europeans proud. Ainan Celeste Cawley, of Asian-Irish parentage, recently passed his Chemistry O Level exam from the London Edexcel Board, an exam normally taken by British 16-year-olds.

Considered a child prodigy and the youngest chemist on record worldwide, Ainan has been to school in both London and Singapore.

His father, Valentine, was educated at Cambridge University.

The exam that the younger Cawley passed, his father said, was a “rigorous one and at a level equal to or higher than American high school graduation.”

The father pointed out that “American universities recruit O level students directly onto their degree courses. It is still taken all over the world by former commonwealth countries as a benchmark academic exam.”

He disclosed that Ainan picked up a level textbook only on July 18, 2006, and took his exam six months later at the British Council in Singapore as a private examinee.

“Taking an exam alongside him were four rather surprised adult candidates. Ainan was just seven years and one month old when he took the examination,” the proud father said.

Walking at six months, as a toddler, Ainan would seek out science books in the library, showing a preference for dense texts with complicated illustrations of scientific matters. “These he would absorb quietly and comment on later,” the elder Cawley said.

By the time he was three or four, Ainan was interested in “hyper-dimensional shapes” and would draw their shadows in two dimensions as a form of “intellectual play,” he said. “Some of these shapes had hundreds of sides.

This was not a surprise to his mother, Syahidah Osman Cawley, an ambidextrous artist,” he added.

This interest in structure in the abstract developed into an interest in the structure of molecules as he discovered chemistry on the Internet. Through self-guided surfing, Ainan educated himself in science.

When he was six years old, he was given a chemistry book to look at on a whim. Ainan sat and read the text and indicated that he understood it.

His family gave him a chemistry test paper to do from the book and to everyone’s astonishment, he answered the questions correctly.

His father, Valentine, a former physicist, promptly presented him with a chemistry O level textbook.

For daily updates on Ainan, please read Valentine’s blog at

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:04 PM 


Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape