The fifteen-year-old Indian-American girl named Gitanjali Rao has been selected as the first-ever kid of the year by the TIME magazine for her work and invention using technology to combat issues related to contaminated drinking water, opioid addiction and cyberbullying.
She was featured on the cover of the latest edition of the magazine and was selected from around 5,000 nominees. In an interview she spoke about her inventions and shared a message for the other young people saying – “If I can do it, you all can do it”. She also talked in brief about her work including the use of technology to tackle a range of issues. She also said that it was her target to create an international community of young minds of innovators aimed at
problem solving. This was not the first time that she was being recognised for her work. In 2017, she got appreciations when she created a device which was known as “Tehys” that used carbon nanotube sensors to detect lead in water in response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
She later joined with the scientists in the water industry to release her device in the market and then she was also named ‘America’s Top Young Scientist for her invention. In 2019, she was featured in Forbes prestigious 30 under 30 list for her invention.
She said she was of 10 years old when she told her parents that she wanted to do research about carbon nanotube sensor technology at the Denver water quality research lab. She felt that such work is going to be in their generations hands pretty soon and she stated that if no one is going to do it then she’s gonna do it. Her most recent invention is an app and web tool called ‘Kindly’, which uses artificial intelligence to detect the early signs of cyber bullying and it also gives you the option to edit the text or send it the way it is. She stated that the goal of this app is not to punish.
She feels that as a teenager, we tend to lash out sometimes. Instead, it gives you the chance to rethink what you’re saying and are about to write so that you know what to do next time around. In may 2019, she won the top “Health” Pillar Prize to her name at the TCS Ignite Innovation Student Challenge for developing a diagnostic tool for the early diagnosis of the prescription opioid addiction.
When she was asked about the moment she discovered that science was her passion, this little girl said it is her every day goal to put a smile on someone’s face. She added that she doesn’t look like young typical scientist. Everything she saw on TV was an older, usually white man as a scientist. It’s weird to her that it was almost like people had assigned roles, regarding like their gender, their age, the colour of their skin.
The young scientist said that her goal went from not only creating her devices to solve the world’s problems, but inspiring others to do the same as well.