DeKalb, IL — Gitanjali Rao, a 15-year-old from Colorado, has been named Time magazine's first-ever “Kid of the Year” for her work in identifying lead in drinking water and an app that detects cyberbullying.
The teen scientist and inventor was chosen from a field of more than 5,000 Americans, ages eight to 16. Rao said she wants to create a global community of young innovators to solve the world’s problems.
“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. Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you,” Rao said to Time magazine, with actor and humanitarian Angelina Jolie.
Rao said in second or third grade, she started thinking about how people can use science and technology to create social change.
Rao’s latest invention is a service called Kindly. The app and Chrome extension is able to detect cyberbullying at an early stage, based on artificial-intelligence technology.
In the past, Rao was named "America's top young scientist" for inventing a quick, low-cost test to detect lead-contaminated water.
Rao’s message to young people is don’t try to fix every problem, just focus on one that excites you.
“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” she said.