Jaxon Wood is something of a maths and science prodigy.
He revels in the possibility of unproved theorems.
“With math, I like to go into the undiscovered paths, particularly to make progress. It feels good doing something that no one else has ever done before,” he said.
At Byford Secondary College, he went by the nickname ‘c4lculator’, a moniker he proudly had emblazoned on his 2023 senior jersey.
Even the family dog was named after Nobel Prize-winning nuclear chemist Glenn T Seaborg.
But as much of a STEM superstar as he is, Jaxon managed to surprise everyone, including himself, with his stellar achievements in his senior year.
“My predicted ATAR at the start of Year 12, based on my Year 11 scores, was 99.35. But I actually scored 99.7,” he said.
“I was definitely surprised. And I was really excited to get that.”
He wasn’t the only one; Jaxon’s rapt teachers called him to congratulate him as soon as the results were published.
Jaxon was named the ATAR dux of his school for 2023, and he also scooped the pool for individual subject awards.
He was named top of his class in Mathematics Specialist, Mathematics Method, Physics, Chemistry, and IT.
He was also given the ADF’s Future Innovators Award, which recognises brilliant minds and achievements in a STEM-related field.
But perhaps best of all, Jaxon’s high admissions ranking grants him an all-access pass to a long-held dream of his – to study at the University of Western Australia.
In a month’s time, on his birthday, Jaxon will start his tertiary journey with a Bachelor of Science (frontier physics) and a Masters of Physics.
“I’m just so proud of him, to see him reach his goals. He’s got so much to offer the world, and this next stage of his life will be so exciting for him,” mum, Nikki Orr said.
Jaxon has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which puts his scholastic achievements into even sharper relief.
But he is quick to assert that his diagnosis shouldn’t colour his achievements too much, ever wary of the clichéd ‘autistic genius’ trope.
“It just gets a little boring. Most people think we’re born good at stuff – that it’s a black and white situation,” he said.
“But I set myself goals, and worked hard. School has been my number one focus.”
His sights are now set on blitzing his university courses, in the hopes of one day becoming a tenured professor.
He’s still not sure which scientific discipline he’ll find himself working in, but he knows he’ll never be bored, whatever his calling.
“There’s so much to discover and learn – your work is never finished. There’s always somewhere else to go,” he said.