(CNN) — When Gavin Ovsak started multiplying double-digit numbers in his head in kindergarten, his mother, Cathy, was astonished.
“We were like, where did that come from? When did they cover that today?” said his mother, who lives in Hopkins, Minnesota.
Today, Gavin is a 16-year-old award-winning inventor who’s finishing up applications for two prestigious science competitions. His entry is the Circuit-Hat Accessibility Device, an electronic hat that allows disabled people to use a computer without a mouse. When he’s not working on these kinds of projects, he’s performing improv comedy, leading a robotics team and heading his school’s foreign exchange club — and, of course, homework.
What motivates this passion for learning, and achievement? Gavin says that he has a natural drive to challenge himself and help people through technology, but his parents have also opened his world with opportunities to excel.
Gavin is one of five highly talented, self-motivated kids CNN spoke with whose parents have worked hard to encourage the thirst for knowledge, the love of a good challenge and the idea that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Exposure to creative pursuits early in life is key to helping children get motivated to do creative things themselves, said Shelley Carson, a psychologist at Harvard University and author of “Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life.”
That’s how Jolisa Brown, 11, whom her parents call a “superbrain,” got into music. Her father, Delongelo Brown, began bringing Jolisa and her brother into his home music studio as babies. Jolisa developed a passion for singing and wants to be the head of a music company one day, having learned about her father’s experiences in a band.
“It was hearing what he did and hearing how much he loved it [that] inspired me and made me want to do the same thing,” said Jolisa, of Atlanta, Georgia.
Read the entire CNN article here.