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America's Top Young Scientist, 11, Gets the Lead Out

America's Top Young Scientist, 11, Gets the Lead Out
(Screengrab of Twitter post/@DiscoveryEd)

By    |   Thursday, 19 October 2017 12:28 PM

America's Top Young Scientist title went to an 11-year-old Colorado student who developed a senor-based device that can detect lead in water faster than other techniques, according to 3M and Discovery Education.

Gitanjali Rao, from Lone Tree, Colorado, won the title on Wednesday against nine other youngsters at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, along with a $25,000 prize. Rao's sensors and a mobile app show the water's status almost immediately, serving as an option to expensive equipment currently used, 3M said.

Rao told ABC News that she was inspired to tackle the water quality issue after following the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Elevated levels of lead were found in Flint's water supply after the city disconnected from Detroit's water line as a cost-cutting measure and began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014, ABC News wrote.

"I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years," Rao told ABC News. "I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water and I wanted to do something to change this."

The seventh grader told the network that she picked the brains of her parents, both engineers, as well as her teacher and local universities after reading about new technology that can identify hazardous waste.

"We had to learn as she asked questions," Ram Rao told ABC News. "Our first question was, 'Is this what you really want to go after? Because it's a sizable problem. Then you go one day at a time. There was no real expectation that she would necessarily finish, but the journey itself would be the learning experience. It turned out she had a lot more determination."

She spent the summer perfecting her device, called Tethys after the Greek goddess for water, using carbon nanotubes to detect the presence of lead with a mobile app displaying the water's status, the Business Insider stated.

Rao and the other finalists worked directly with a 3M scientist to develop their innovations as part of a summer mentorship program, 3M said.

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America's Top Young Scientist title went to an 11-year-old Colorado student who developed a senor-based device that can detect lead in water faster than other techniques.
america, top, young, scientist
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2017-28-19
Thursday, 19 October 2017 12:28 PM
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