Max Thomas’ world, this much is obvious: X squared equals radical 2x
to the third power.
Meet William S. Hackett Middle School’s math prodigy.
“When I see numbers, it’s like I see how things go together in math.
It just comes to me easily,” said Thomas, an eighth-grader at
Hackett whose nimbleness with numbers has allowed him to vault two
years ahead of his peers in math.
Acceleration isn’t new to 12-year-old Thomas.
Back in the day, he skipped second grade. During fifth grade,
advancement discussions started between his parents and district
math supervisor Doreen Mitchell. He passed evaluation tests and
started the 2009-10 school year as a Hackett sixth-grader taking
honors math with students a year ahead of him.
“It was basically a partnership between the parents, Max and the
school,” Hackett Principal Michael Paolino said. “Based upon our
review, we felt he could handle the challenge and succeed.”
As a seventh-grader, he began taking integrated algebra – normally
offered to ninth-graders – alongside accelerated eighth-graders at
The experiment was a success.
Thomas ended the year with a 95 average in algebra. This year, he’s
taking geometry, a course typically taken by sophomores.
Paolino said Thomas paved the way for other whiz kids at Hackett;
one sixth-grader currently takes ninth-grade math.
Thomas is no slouch in other subjects, either. He’s fluent in
Spanish. He takes across-the-board honors classes and excels
all of them.
“English is my weakest subject,” he said. “I never really developed
an interest in it.”
Still, he’s a big reader. His choices tend toward science
fiction and fantasy of the Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams
Not surprisingly, Thomas’ hobbies are math- and
“I really like robots,” he said. “I’ve designed a few simple
vehicles using LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT.”
He also builds models and is working on building a collection of
“I want to be a computer engineer. If not that, maybe mechanical,”
Thomas said. “I have an interesting concept for a train that runs on
solar power. I have it all mapped out. It's a really good idea."