Connall Cairns of Essex, England, has been interested in rocket science since he was seven years old. At age 13, he got the chance to take an MIT course in it—and passed.
Course 1600x (Introduction to Aerospace Engineering: Astronautics and Human Spaceflight, a MOOC offered online via the edX platform, was taught this past March and April by MIT professor Jeffrey Hoffman, a former NASA astronaut who has made five spaceflights and was the first astronaut to log 1000 hours on the Space Shuttle.
The free eight-week course was suggested to Connall by a teacher at his school, and he worked independently at home on evenings and weekends to complete the coursework. To earn his 81% score, Cairns immersed himself in physics and math concepts such as Kepler’s laws of planetary motion and Newton’s law of universal gravitation.
“I’m absolutely fascinated with science and I’m open to anything,” the 13-year-old told the Essex Chronicle. “One day I’d like to go to MIT in Massachusetts for real and work for a degree there.”