Gitanjali Rao is a sophomore and avid inventor from STEM School Highlands Ranch in Douglas County, Colorado. In her short life, she has used scientific creativity to address many real-world problems, like lead in drinking water, drug abuse, and bullying. Her amazing accomplishments and spirit were recognized when she was recently selected as Time Magazine’s first-ever “Kid of the Year”.
Since Gitanjali was in 3rd grade, she has made it a priority to tackle big social causes with her talents. It was then that she learned about lead-polluted water in Flint, Michigan, and the terrible impact it has on children’s health.
After researching how the water was contaminated, she began designing a device, called Tethys, that attaches to a mobile phone and can immediately detect lead in water. She is continuing to test the device with the Denver Water Facility and is hoping it will be ready to be used publically in 2022.
Gitanjali’s love of real-world problem solving did not end there, however. Since she invented Tethys, Gitanjali has also invented Kindly, an app to help prevent cyberbullying. And Epione, an early warning system to catch drug addiction in young adults.
Building on her experience, Gitanjali now wants to inspire other kids to use science and tech to solve big problems. “I don’t look like your typical scientist. Everything I see on TV is that it’s an older, usually white man as a scientist,” she told Time. “My goal has really shifted not only from creating my own devices to solve the world’s problems, but inspiring others to do the same as well. Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you. So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it.”
Learn more about Gitanjali Rao and her inspiring story below:
- Here are other great IMK stories about inventors and entrepreneurs
- Check out Gitanjali Rao’s blog here
- Learn more about the Time Kid of the Year Award
- Read our inspiring quotes about creativity and passion
Topics for Discussion:
- What character traits do Gitanjali exhibit?
- How can science and technology make the world a better place? Can you name some that have?
- Do you have any ideas for products or inventions that could solve a real-world problem?
- Find a Camp Invention or Club Invention in your area to have fun, learn about inventing and make your own inventions!
- Get inspired by the many great kids inventions at Inventnow.org and learn how to make your idea a reality
- Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
- Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.