Indian-American girl wins 2017 Young Scientist Challenge for water contamination detection device

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An 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao inspired by the Flint, Michigan, water crisis has been named “America’s Top Young Scientist” after she developed a device that can quickly detect lead levels in water.

Washington: Indian-American Gitanjali Rao, 11, was announced the winner of Discovery Education’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge 2017 on October 18 for her prototype water lead contamination detector, called ‘Tethys’. The sensor-based device detects the quality of water and shares the results to a mobile application via bluetooth. The aim of the competition, open to citizens of the US who are enrolled from Class 5 to 8, is to identify a solution to an everyday problem that directly impacts either the contestant or the global population.
“Millions of people around the world are exposed to water containing lead and its harmful side affects. My solution addresses a core issue of speedy detection of lead contamination, allowing preventive action and saving lives,” the Class 7 girl said. “There are over 5,000 water systems in the US alone with lead contamination issues. Detection and preventive action can help mitigate the problem,” Gitanjali, who studies at STEM School and Academy in Colarado, added.
On asked why she entered the competition, Gitanjali said, “I entered the Young Scientist Challenge because it combines my love of science, solving problems by new inventions, and creating films.” She hopes to be a geneticist or an epidemiologist down the line, to try and find cures for diseases “that cause lot of pain.”
The winner of the competition is awarded $25,000 along with the title of ‘America’s Top Young Scientist 2017’.

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