Ian Johnson is 13 but years ago -- when even Ian says he was young -- his mom would put him in timeout for being mischievous. But that never worked.
"He'd pass hours just counting," his mother, Karen Johnson, said.
"It was an opportunity to find out how high I could count," added Ian who doesn't remember that but finds it easy to believe. "I don't care about anything else, just math."
It shows. He's the only middle school student in Nevada to earn a perfect score in the annual American Mathematics Contest covering middle school curriculum in 25 multiple-choice questions pertaining to probability, estimation, percentages, interpreting graphs and more. The eighth-grader is already two years ahead of that material, taking geometry (usually a course for high school sophomores) like many of his peers at Hyde Park Middle School, a magnet campus for math and science near Valley View and Charleston boulevards. Out of 152,770 students around the world who took the test, only 284 landed perfect scores. If you can't do the math in your head, that's 0.185 percent.
That's not all.
He's earned a perfect score two years in a row, a first for any Nevadan. Last year, Ian wasn't the only Nevadan to land a perfect score. However, the other two were in eighth grade, a year ahead of him.
He's always shown an academic aptitude, said his mother, who remembers him reading license plates at 18 months of age and already writing his name. He still constantly reads, but numbers are always on his mind, which is why he's taking physics, usually an advanced high school class.
That's why one of his favorite books is "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." His favorite TV show shouldn't be a surprise: "The Big Bang Theory."
When asked whether he played sports, Ian replied "Mathcounts," which is a middle school math competition. He was seventh in the state last year, but his goal is to at least make the top four so he can go to nationals. That shouldn't be too difficult, said his mother, because almost everyone ahead of him last year were eighth graders and are gone now.
"He's a mathlete," says his mom, smiling with pride.
"If I had to play a sport, it would be basketball," says Ian, wearing a desert-camo pattern zip-up sweater and black framed Buddy Holly glasses. "My P.E. teacher said math is a sport. Best sport ever."
Ian's math skills come from his father who's a software specialist and computer programmer for IBM, his mother said.
"They talk geek together," his mother said and laughed. "It's awful."
She and her husband have made sure from the beginning that Ian is challenged, is given room to excel and is not bored. He spent kindergarten at a traditional elementary school because students can't go directly into a magnet school. He used to correct the teacher when she paraphrased instructions instead of reading them verbatim, Karen said.
"He was like, 'That's not what it says,' " she said.
He transferred to Bracken School for math and science for the rest of his elementary years and then came to Hyde Park, which had 12 students place in the top 2 percent of the American Mathematics Contest this year.
"I love it here." Ian said. "I'm not a total nerd outcast or anything."
The Johnson's have also tailored education to fit their 11-year-old daughter's artistic interests, putting her in Knudson Middle School, an academy for creative arts, language, and technology.
For Ian, it's off to Clark High School next year. That's the only county school his parents can find that teaches Calculus III.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0279.