‘Time’ magazine names its first ever Kid of the Year: 15-year-old scientist Gitanjali Rao

  • The American teenager has invented a device that can detect lead in drinking water and an app to detect cyberbullying
  • The youngest person previously recognised by ‘Time’ was Greta Thunberg, who was Person of the Year 2019
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Gitanjali Rao (right) speaks to actress Angelina Jolie about her interest in science. Photo: Screengrab from Instagram/Time

Gitanjali Rao is the first ever Time magazine Kid of the Year. The new category sought to find the most influential kid of 2020, and the 15-year-old scientist and inventor was chosen.

The list of 5,000 young Americans was narrowed down to five finalists who will each receive a cash prize and be given a chance to contribute to the magazine.

The other young people on the shortlist are artist Tyler Gordon, 14, designer and activist Jordan Reeves, 14, world’s first crayon activist Bellen Woodard, 10, and youth hunger activist Ian McKenna, 16.

Gitanjali said she became interested in carbon nanotube sensor technology, molecules which can detect chemicals in water, when she was 10. At age 11, she won the Young Scientist Challenge for creating a device that can detect lead in drinking water with the help of a mobile app.

Last year, she was named to Forbes 30 under 30 list.

Meet the US teen whose discovery may lead to a Covid-19 cure

She’s also developed an app and Chrome extension called Kindly which uses artificial-intelligence technology to detect cyberbullying at an early stage.

“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,” she said. “Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you.”

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