When Raphael Cardenas was four years old, he drew a map of the United States - with all 50 states and capitals - geographically correct.
His mother Rachel Cardenas showed off the map with great pride. She insisted her son did it on his own.
Raphael, 12, rolls his eyes and said, "I did get a few of the capitals wrong."
The student at Richmond's Choice School for Gifted Children is also fascinated by national anthems.
At the age of six, he taught himself on the piano - without reading a single musical note - to play them. So far, he knows the anthems of 100 countries.
When asked what possessed him to memorize anthems, Raphael shrugged and seemed to struggle with how best to answer the question.
"I don't know, I guess I just really like that type of music," he said nonchalantly, adding he found El Salvador and Paraguay's anthems a little more challenging. "I don't read music, I just play what I hear."
That's not all. Raphael has conquered two brain bowls (academic competitions), two years in a row - last summer at UCLA and this year at the University of California at Berkeley.
He is a member of National Society for the Gifted and Talented in the U.S., and attends the Summer Institute for the Gifted programs, where he has studied such subjects as espionage, DNA testing, economics, creative math paths, anticipating algebra and the history of gaming.
Raphael admits he is also obsessed with American presidents and their parties, Olympics, flags and airplanes.
In his spare time, he reads voraciously and likes to draw and write.
He's tried sports - swimming, skating (he joked he didn't pass skating lessons), Marshall arts and golf - but doesn't pursue them now.
Instead, he prefers to watch Nickelodeon television and Stanley Cup playoffs.
His mom first suspected her only child might be gifted when Raphael was about three years old.
"He started reading when he was two," said Cardenas.
"By three, he would bite into a cracker and shape it into an American state.
"Whenever we went to the mall, Raphael didn't want to go to the toy store, he would rather go to the book stores."
Initially, Raphael attended Garden City elementary, but his parents soon found their son bored and frustrated.
Raphael laughed. "In Grade 3, kids would call me 'brainiac' or 'mind freak,'" he said, adding he knows he's gifted and sees it as a huge compliment when people tell him that. "It's because I did math outside of the limits the teacher was teaching us."
Then, three years ago, Cardenas said Raphael would complain that he didn't want to go to school.
His teachers at Garden City agreed he was gifted and placed Raphael in the gifted education program, but he was still bored.
"Now, at Choice he's taking Grade 10 level writing and Grade 8 math," said Cardenas. "He's happy as can be."
Raphael piped in, "I don't feel like I have to always answer questions and help other students here like I did at Garden City."
Meanwhile, Raphael sees a future as an aircraft engineer at Bombardier or Boeing.
"I want to study engineering at the California Institute of Technology . they have a great reputation and I believe the United States has better post-secondary institutions," said the young boy genius before shaking hands goodbye.