Know America's Top Young 12-year-old Scientist, Gitanjali Rao

Bhana Bisht
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Gitanjali Rao Scientist

Gitanjali Rao, a 12-year-old schoolgirl from America, is a perfect example of why women can lead the way up in science too. Recently, she demonstrated her lead-detection device, at 2018 MAKERS Conference, built in response to the Flint, Michigan water crisis.


Last year, as an 11-year-old, ">Gitanjali became America's top young scientist. Rao's invention of a cheap device that rapidly tests water for lead contamination fetched her the title.

Here are few things you must know about her and her invention:

  • Gitanjali lives with her parents in Colorado, United States. She is a student at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
  • A couple of years ago, owing to the Flint water crisis, Gitanjali became concerned about lead contamination. She soon realised that Flint was not the only place to have faced this problem.
  • The young girl ">mentioned nearly 5,000 water systems all over the United States are contaminated with lead.
  • She then decided to invent a quick, low-cost test to detect the presence of lead in water.
  • Gitanjali named her device after Thethys, the Greek goddess of fresh water. She took merely five months to complete the project.

  • Thethys utilises carbon nanotubes for detection of lead, she told Colorado Public Radio. Back then, she had expressed her wish to further work on the device and modify it to make it market ready.
  • Gitanjali was selected from 10 finalists who had spent three months collaborating with scientists to develop their ideas.
  • Her invention was also inspired by the scandal in Flint, Michigan, where officials are facing charges including manslaughter over water contamination in 2014-15, she told Business Insider.
  • She is a piano player, community volunteer, science enthusiast, youth ambassador for kindness and STEM promoter.
  • Gitanjali, who hails from Lone Tree, Colorado, fought off the competition with her device.
  • She was also awarded $25,000 along with the title.
  • According to Business Insider, she wants to be either a geneticist or epidemiologist when she grows up. Lead contamination was interesting to her, she revealed, because it combines both disciplines.

Every year, the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge asks children to explain in a short video a new scientific idea or invention – one that solves an everyday problem. The children are then shortlisted accordingly. The American Young Scientist Challenge has launched careers of brilliant young women before. Deepika Kurup, who scooped the award in 2012 for her water-purification system, was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2015, and is now at Harvard.

Gitanjali's work is making headlines not only for her young age, but also for her brilliant applications and presentation of her ideas and inventions.

Also Read: France Appoints Assam’s Priyanka Das As Science Ambassador

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