Recognizing rising leaders of the next generation, Time magazine has named a young female scientist from Lone Tree, Colorado, as its very first “Kid of the Year.” Gitanjali Rao was selected from 5,000 Americans, ages 8 to 16.
Her credentials are impressive.
Inspired by the Flint, Michigan water crisis, Rao (at just 10 years of age) began researching carbon nanotube sensor technology and invented a small mobile device she called “Tethys,” that detects lead in drinking water. In Greek mythology, Tethys was a Titan daughter of Uranus and Gaia, a sister and wife of the Titan Oceanus, and the mother of the river gods and the clouds. She won the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” in 3M’s Young Scientist Challenge for her invention. The device is now being developed into a working prototype for release to the public.
Rao then turned her attention to the problem of cyberbullying and created an app called “Kindly” that uses artificial intelligence technology to detect cyberbullying language and help rephrase it. “The goal is not to punish. Instead, it gives you the chance to rethink what you’re saying so that you know what to do next time around,” she says.
At age 16, Rao is a force to be reckoned with, inspiring other kids by holding online innovation workshops around the world, and teaching her process: observe, brainstorm, research, build, and communicate.
Rao states, “The students that I work with, they just don’t know where to start. I think that if you give them that spark they can then build off of, then that changes everything. That means one more person in this world wants to come up with ideas to solve problems.”
And what’s next for this young scientist? She’s researching ways to fight prescription-opioid addiction. And she’s hit her goal of mentoring 30,000 students.
This “Kid of the Year” is building an army of young inventors and innovators who will someday change the world, just as she is.
This story is brought to you by Arroyo Seco Live. “Building community through creativity. SecoLive.org
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