Back in October, Colorado middle schooler Gitanjali Rao was named America’s Top Young Scientist at the annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for inventing the Tethys—a portable, inexpensive, easy to use system for testing water for lead. Over the holidays, CBS sat down with Rao to give this brilliant tween some well deserved shine.
Rao was inspired to invent the Tethys after witnessing the ongoing tragedy of the Flint, Michigan water crisis.
“Lead is mostly harmful to younger children, about my age, giving them growth defects and potentially damaging their brain,” she told CBS. “...that’s not something I want to go through, what the Flint residents went through...Our water quality’s just as important as doctor’s appointments or dentist’s appointments.”
Asked what makes Rao special (besides inventing a lead testing system at freakin’ 11-years-old), her science teacher Simi Basu says that Rao “is a risk-taker. She’s not afraid to fail.”
Next, Rao would like to attempt a happiness meter, “which measures the amount of serotonin in your body or the amount of gamma rays and”—Rao adds—“I still have to figure out how this works.”
The children are our future.