The first kid ever to be chosen as “Times Kid of the Year” by Times Magazine is a 15-year-old Indian American Scientist and Inventor, Gitanjali Rao. The young genius has also been recognised as Forbes 30 under 30 for her impeccable Innovations. She has received this recognition for her flummoxed and mind-blowing work as a young scientist, who used technology with her innovative skills and addressed issues right from contaminated drinking water to cyber-bullying. At such a young age, Gitanjali's achievements have inspired many other kids of her age to work
towards their dreams.
Amongst more than 5000+ nominees, Gitanjali bagged the ”Kid of the Year” title as she emerged as an inspiration to a global community of many young innovators and has inspired them to run after their dreams.
In a Tweet by the young scientists, she says. ”Humbled, honoured, and excited! Special thanks to all my mentors, teachers, family, and friends who believed in me and supported me. Congrats to all the finalists and many of them are my friends @jordanjustright from @TheSTEAM_Squad @MightyRebekah @ElijahLee07. They inspire me!”
Rao’s Innovation In Lead Detection In Water – Tethys
In an exclusive interview with the young genius, when asked about her inspiration for her first invention Tethys, she said, ” A lot of the inspiration that I have drawn in from India. Looking at the water problem in India helped me understand how much of a widespread problem lead water is, especially in India. It is such a tragedy that people don’t have clean water to drink. Everyone has the right to clean water.”
In her interview, Rao revealed that she has been approached by numerous institutions based out of India. She also added that she would love to see those institutions reach out to other young scientists too.
When asked what led her to this innovation, Gitanjali said. ”When I was much younger, I was told to go fetch water with my cousin from a well. My grandma would boil it and then we would drink it. We walked a far distance to get the water. I remember taking a sip of it and for the next week I was sick.”
The young scientist explained this incident as one of the hardest experiences in her life. She was just 4-5 years old when she witnessed this incident. The event left a deep scar in the young mind and compelled her to do something to change the current scenario. She understood the gravity of this problem and was determined to work towards it. The result of which is Tethys.
Rao’s Inspiration: Marie Curie
Every child has an inspiration and so does Rao. When asked about her idol and inspiration, she said, ” Marie Curie is my greatest inspiration since I was in grade 2. Apart from that, my parents have been a huge support. My grandparents and family members from India have supported me.”
On addition to Curie, she added other names to her lists such as Emmanuelle Marie Charpentier, a French professor and researcher in microbiology, genetics and biochemistry; and Jennifer Anne Doudna, an American biochemist, who is known for her impeccable work in CRISPR gene editing.
Rao’s AI Service Against Cyberbullying – Kindly
The young scientist has entered the world of cyberbullying as well. When asked what was her App Kindly’s propaganda to prevent and reduce cyberbullying, she says, ” Kindly is an artificial intelligence-based service to detect or prevent cyberbullying. This identifies words or phrases that might be considered bullying.”
She further adds to her statement, ”Where I live in Denver, Colorado, we have the highest rate of teen suicides and most of them are dying due to cyberbullying. It is beyond scary. I realized I wanted to do something before it was too late. I wanted to create a safer internet where people could talk to each other.”
When asked to elaborate on her App, she said that her App Kindly is intended to be non-punitive. The App has been designed in a way that it allows the users to rephrase their sentences properly and acceptably if they want to. It gives them a second chance to reflect their sentence because, at times, people do not realise or intend to do a certain task. However, this App allows them to reflect on their activity and warn them about any wrongly structured sentence which may carry a wrong or hurtful meaning.
Rao On Time Management And Covid-19 Innovations
Gitanjali, when asked about her extracurricular activities says, ”I am a strong believer of wanting to do things and not needing to do things. Everything I am doing is the things that I want to do. I love working on my inventions, I love kathak and I love singing.”
She says even though it becomes hard on her sometimes, Gitanjali never deters from her goal and reminds herself that she is doing what she loves. Additionally, when asked about her take on the global pandemic, the young scientist says, ”I have a few ideas that I would be working on. But, first of all, a big thank you to the collective effort of all the scientists and researchers who are developing a vaccine within nine months. It is amazing,” Gitanjali said while talking about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Gitanjali’s idea is based on an analytical approach which focuses on distribution and prioritization of vaccines which helps to ease out the process making it smooth and effective. She assumes and calculates the possibility of more pandemics in the future and hence, she aims at building and devising tools and techniques for contract tracing, healthcare and vaccines to prevent such things from happening in future.
On her plans for the future, the young scientist says that she wants her innovations to sustain beyond herself. Her mind keeps changing on plans and hence, she just wants to go with time and accept anything that comes her way.
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