7 things you need to know about Gitanjali Rao, TIME Magazine's first-ever Kid of the Year

From learning Indian classical dance to addressing cyber bullying and safe drinking water, all you need to know about Gitanjali Rao, Time magazine’s Kid of the Year 2020.
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Fifteen-year-old Gitanjali Rao’s problem-solving prowess using technology has catapulted her into the limelight and again with various awards and accolades. The young scientist and innovator has her heart and mind set on problems that challenges humanity.  

She believes that newer and unprecedented problems demand innovative and tech-based solutions. Here are seven things you should know about Gitanjali Rao, the Indian-American whose kindness and quest for learning makes her a true trailblazer.

TIME’s first ever Kid of the Year

The 15-year-old is making headlines as TIME magazine’s Kid of the Year for her exceptional use of technology to solve world problems. Gitanjali started thinking of ways to use science and technology to create social change from the time she was in the second or third grade.

Seeing that her generation faces unprecedented problems, new and old, her mission is to create a global community of young innovators to solve them. At the same time, she suggests young people should focus on one exciting solution rather than trying to solve every problem.

Tethys to ensure safe drinking water

Gitanjali was named as America’s Top Young Scientist when she invented Tethys, a device that detects lead contamination in water, in 2017.

A seventh-grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch at the time, she developed the device in five months. The young scientist wanted to solve the problem of Flint crisis where the city’s water was contaminated with lead.

Built apps to tackle cyber safety, opioid addiction, and more

If there is a problem, Gitanjali is sure to work on a solution. Kindly is an AI-based solution that flags cyberbullying content in real time. She also developed Epione, an early diagnosis solution for prescription opioid addiction, accompanied by a mobile application.

A Marvel Hero

Gitanjali was featured in the web series Marvel’s Hero Project as Genius Gitanjali for her valuable contributions to society.

“I think that being a scientist is like being a superhero, because superheroes save people, and want to do what is best for their society – scientists do the same exact thing,” she earlier told Google.

Forbes 30 Under 30, TED Speaker, and more

From being featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 list to speaking at various TED events, the preteen has many achievements and accolades to her name. Added to the list are the EPA Presidential Award, George Stephenson Innovation Award 2020, Kumon 2019 Student Inspirational Award, TCS Ignite Innovation Top Health Pillar Award, and many more.

Author of A Young Innovative Guide to STEM, Baby Brother Wonders

In March 2020, Gitanjali's A Young Innovative Guide to STEM was published by Simon and Schuster to inspire more people to approach today’s problems creatively with innovative solutions. Self-published in 2015, Baby Brother Wonders captures the curiosity of her younger brother.

Loves playing piano at assisted living residences

Gitanjali loves playing the piano and frequently plays for elderly people at assisted living centres and organises performances with other volunteers as well. It is not surprising considering her goal has always been make others smile and happy. This aim also got her interested in science and technology.

She is also your regular 15-year-old

Although it may be hard to believe, she is your regular 15-year-old girl who enjoys Indian classical dancing, singing, swimming, fencing, and baking. Gitanjali has been playing classical music for nearly nine years now.

“I spent more time doing 15-year-old things during the quarantine. I bake an ungodly amount. It's not good, but it's baking. And, like, it's science too,” she said, speaking to actor Angelina Jolie.

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