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Meet Minnesota's Own 'Young Sheldon'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- We fully acknowledge here at WCCO-TV that Thursday nights just won't be the same. After 12 seasons, TV's top comedy went out with a bang.

"The Big Bang Theory" followed Sheldon, a theoretical physicist, and his fellow intellects through the ups and downs of young adulthood.

READ MORE: 'The Big Bang Theory' Cements Its Place In Pop-Culture History

As Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield discovered, Minnesota has a Sheldon of its own.

The Blaine-Anoka Airport. It's a curious place for a bunch of teens to be spending a Thursday night. There were screens involved, but they were using them to create simulations.

"I would say the Sheldon in the room is Yelizar Dergachev. He's a really, really unique individual. Love him to pieces," said Mary Albright, Civil Air Patrol Science competitors instructor. "Thinks on a different plane than the rest of us."

Yelizir Derkachev Young Sheldon
Yelizir Derkachev (credit: CBS)

A scene that played out in real time, when Minnesota's young Sheldon tried to explain to me his satellite transmittance theory, and the patent he has filed. Yelizar is also working on a live-action video game, and a formula to make computer transmissions more efficient.

The 16-year-old St. Anthony Village High School student fell in love with space in the third grade after finding a video on YouTube. The son of Russian immigrants, Yelizar spends his free time in a room full of standout students. They are young members of the Civil Air Patrol, kids who are obsessed with space and compete in science and math competitions.

The parents of these students find comfort in the quirky characters and vast popularity of "The Big Bang Theory."

"On TV they're viewed as total geeks, and it's funny and it's humorous. And yet our children are very funny and humorous at the same time," said Mila Belair, mother of a Civil Air Patrol Science competitor.

As for those comparisons to "Young Sheldon," Yelizar is flattered.

"I'm honored by that. I think that Sheldon's very cool," he said.

READ MORE: 'It Just Made People Happy': The Big Bang Theory Stars Reflect On Show's Legacy

And just like Sheldon and his friends, Yelizar realizes the sky isn't the limit -- it's just the beginning.

Yelizar hopes to study aerospace engineering at MIT or Stanford University.

He is just one of the standouts here in Minnesota, where students rank third in the country for math scores and seventh for overall education.

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