• Cathy on 'Child Genius'. (SBS)Source: SBS
It’s not just about brain power.
Shane Cubis

19 Oct 2018 - 12:20 PM  UPDATED 16 Nov 2018 - 2:55 PM

Everyone remembers the smartest kid from their primary school – the one who knew how many moons Jupiter had or was reading The Silmarillion while everyone was else was picking their nose over Grug Learns to Swim. Now imagine taking that prodigy and putting them in a battle of the brains with their peers from all over Australia.

Backed by Australian MENSA—the local chapter of the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world—Child Genius features up to 12 rounds of head-to-head competition over six episodes. Ultimately, the show is dedicated to discovering which one of our 8-to-12-year-old kids know the most when it comes to maths, general knowledge, Australian history and memorisation skills.


More than just a competition 

This won’t be a post-apocalyptic gladiatorial arena spectacle straight out of Mad Max, where 20 kids enter and only one kid leaves. Instead, producer Maxine Gray says the entire crew has worked hard to foster a welcoming and friendly atmosphere on set:  

“There is competition between them, but it’s friendly…and it’s really heart-warming to see them high-fiving each other and giving each other support. What I’ve said to everybody, parents and children, is that we want this to be a positive experience for everybody. I want any child who's eliminated from the competition to go away and feel like ‘that was a great thing to happen in my life’, and for them to look back on it as a really positive event.”

What’s positively life-changing for the contestants might end up dropping a few jaws in the audience. Host and quiz master Dr Susan Carland spilt the beans on what to expect from the maths round, telling us, “Some of these children are like little human calculators. They’re processing the answers as I’m still speaking, whereas the rest of us would wait till the end and then try to add it up and do the maths. They’re just doing it as you go, like a calculator, and that was just astounding.”

Is genius genetic or is it created?

Based on the British program of the same name, Child Genius is a delightful and heart-warming series that takes us beyond the on-stage competition to see what life’s really like at home for these miniature brainiacs. The nature versus nurture debate gets put to the test by interviewing the parents as well as the kids. You’ll also see how the contestants furiously prep for each new round as well as how they form new friendships with one another.

Expect to learn a great deal about what makes them tick… and as a bonus, get schooled in the art of impressive fact-dropping by some of Australia’s youngest and most nimble minds.


A new six-part SBS series Child Genius hosted by Dr Susan Carland follows the lives of Australia’s brightest children and their families and will see them testing their abilities in maths, general knowledge, memory and language.

The quiz show will be broadcast over two weeks starting November 12. Episodes will be aired Monday to Wednesday at 7.30pm.

After they air, episodes will stream at SBS On Demand: