CHARLOTTE – Reagan Watson spelled tough words like “conundrum” backward and recalled random Greyhound bus routes from as far away as Ontario, Canada on the April 22 episode of the NBC show “Genius Junior.”
The series challenges children, ages 8 to 12 years old, with tough questions that the average person would have to Google.
The most recent episode, “Craniums and Brainiums,” introduced the 10-year-old as an aspiring mechanical engineer who scored a 141 on an IQ test when she was 3.
“There’s nothing I can’t build and I’m ready to build up some points,” Reagan said as she tried to fire up her two teammates in one of the tensest moments of the competition.
Reagan told South Charlotte Weekly that she was “100 percent positive” that appearing on the show was the most exciting thing she’s done in her life, but not quite the most stressful.
“I thought it was pretty stressful when studying, but it was all worth it,” she said.
Reagan went through lots of auditions. She prepared by reading study guides, as well as memorizing sets of cards and the spelling of words.
Reagan is no stranger to academic competition.
She has competed on the Future Problem Solvers team at Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, where her team has advanced to state and international bowls. They solve problems in areas ranging from cybersecurity to alternative energy.
Reagan loves building robots in her spare time. One of her imaginary passions is to build a space elevator to make traveling to the moon, Mars or the space station safer than riding in a spaceship.
“If something easier were to be out there, it would really help with exploring and with furthering science,” she said.
Reagan said she was recommended to appear on the show by Project Scientist, a STEM camp for girls. She also attributes her early exposure to engineering to her mom, who works at a mechanical engineering company.
Reagan also enjoys playing lacrosse, running cross country, camping, traveling and just hanging out.
She was familiar with “Genius Junior” host Neil Patrick Harris’s work in “The Smurfs” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” while her mom knew of him from “Doogie Howser MD” and “How I Met Your Mother.”
It was Reagan who came up with the idea to name her squad, “Team Legend – Wait For It – dary” based on the catchphrase Harris made famous on “How I Met Your Mother.” That led to a funny exchange in which Harris asked Reagan if she was familiar with copyright infringement.
“Neil Patrick Harris was super nice,” Reagan said. “I thought he was real funny on the show and did his job really well.”
Reagan was just as likable. She rooted on her teammates, displayed expressive facial reactions and exhibited a positive attitude throughout.
“It was a really cool experience,” she said. “I will always remember it.”