GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — Like most five-year-old boys, Amogh Banagere likes baseball, books, and Legos, but he also reads at a fifth-grade level, has an IQ of 148, and was just admitted to the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world.
Last week, his parents got the news from America Mensa the rising first-grader was now part of the elite club.
“We thought it was really amazing,” said his mom, Swathi Jayanth. “We didn’t know anything about the high IQ society. We did some research. We thought, ok, they need 130, and his score is 148. So let’s apply and see if he gets it, and within two days, we got approval, and we were over the moon.”
Mensa doesn’t test children under the age of 14, but accepts roughly 150 tests administered by schools testing facilities, or private psychologists.
Teachers at Dogwood Elementary in Germantown, just outside Memphis, recommended Amogh be tested for the gifted programs.
Jayanth and her husband, Pradeep Banagere, knew there was something special about their son. They said at the age of two, he could identify letters of the alphabet out of sequence, began reading words, and by the age of four, was reading books with chapters.
“When he was like four years old, he put together the seven-year-old Lego set, and then I started slowly increasing it. I got the 10-year-old Legos to see how he did,” said Jayanth. “Whenever we feel like he’s doing something different, we give him other resources like either Legos or electronic circuits or books. You know he can solve a 9 by 9 Sudoku puzzle.”
They said their son also has great hand-eye coordination and excels in several sports, including baseball, basketball, soccer and tennis.
“All said, he’s still a five-year-old kid,” said Banagere. “He’s silly, he cranky sometimes. He’s like a regular five-year-old kid, and I think that’s one reason we didn’t feel like with his intellectual abilities, he’s extremely focused on certain things. He’s just an all-rounder, right. But he’s still a five-year-old kid.”
Mensa is a non-profit organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test.
Mensa says it’s hard to pin down the exact number of young Mensans because the numbers change daily, but said they have fewer than 100 members aged 5 or younger among their roughly 50,000 total members.
“One thing we really love about this is he’ll get to meet people with a similar mindset. He will be able to meet and mingle with children or even adults who have similar mindsets and grow with them, and that’s what we were looking for,” said his mom.
Mensa said it tries to connect smart people for intellectual and social purposes and it’s a place where their members fit in, no matter their age.