MANKATO, Minn. (KMSP) - Nearly 80 percent of Minnesota high school students take the ACT exam to help them get into college, but very few accomplish what Sam Mansfield did. The 17-year old home-schooled student aced the test, earning a perfect score of 36.
The young man is also a robotics wiz with dreams of attending MIT, though first he’ll have to pass classes taught by his toughest teacher: Mom.
Inside the Mansfield’s house in Mankato, mom and son, teacher and pupil, have turned the home office into a classroom where the learning never stops.
"I just joked recently that maybe someday, we will have a conversation around the dinner table that didn't involve science," Sam's mom Jodi said. "I have yet to see that happen."
On Wednesday, Sam was catching up on some engineering videos still basking in the excitement of nailing a perfect score on his February ACT exam -- "I was running off adrenaline the entire day. It was awesome."
Jodi was also still beaming after her star pupil nailed the test. "It was really exciting. I am proud. He set a goal. I knew he worked really hard for it."
Though most of his education takes place in the home, Sam does head to Mankato East High School for a couple of “elective classes,” one of which is on his passion, robotics. He's on a robotics team that's trying to design a machine that shoots baskets better than the NBA’s best.
But Sam is also dreaming higher -- "If I worked for NASA, I could program the Mars Rover."
As for that 36 on the ACT, Sam had made it his mission to net a perfect score. According to the testing service that administers the college entrance exam, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students earned the coveted 36.
In 2015, about 1.9 million students took the test with about 1,500 matching Sam’s feat. The young man credits his mom, dad, and his homeschooling background for nurturing his love of knowledge.
"I don't want to say this, but I tend to think of myself as naturally smart," Sam said. "I am not good with common sense. I do some pretty ridiculous stuff, but books smarts I am pretty advanced."
Sam's future plans shouldn't surprise anyone. It's all about education. He wants to study at MIT, then he is already thinking about a masters and a doctorate in such fields as robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence.