Gitanjali Rao is a unique 13-year-old. She’s an 8th grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, CO, but also so much more – she’s a scientist and inventor.
Gitanjali was named America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, with a patent pending device to detect lead in water faster than any other current techniques. She is also the winner of a global Paradigm science challenge. She is a Davidson Young Scholar since 2012, and has received several awards for achievements in science, arts and community service. She also was recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30, 2019 for science and invention. She is an EPA Presidential award winner and is recognized as a Gloria Barron ‘Young Hero’ Honoree for community impact.
Gitanjali is an active STEM promoter and is involved in promoting STEM based activities in schools, clubs and the community. She was selected as the STEM Scout of the Year in 2016-2017 and was selected as one of the 12 delegates to Report to the Nation in the year 2017-2018.
In addition to being a scientist and inventor, Gitanjali has won awards for her writing in national and international contests. She published her first book at age of 9, called Baby Brother Wonders. The self-illustrated book, based on the story that won 2nd prize in the PBS national writing contest, described the world through her younger brother’s point of view. Gitanjali has also won first place in the International Aviation Art Contest for last four years at the state level.
Gitanjali has applied her interests to serving others as well. She was a “TIME for Kids” Kid reporter for the 2017-2018 school year and wrote articles bringing awareness to Flint crisis. She has been an active volunteer for an organization called Children’s Kindness Network that spreads an anti-bullying message, and promotes the importance of kindness in all of us. She conducts workshops in elementary schools and hopes to educate children about kindness when they are still young. She also gave three TEDx talks in India and the U.S. apart from speaking in several girls’ conference and being a UNICEF panelist about the role of Youth to power the planet.
Some of Gitanjali’s hobbies include playing the piano, Indian classical dancing and singing, swimming, fencing, and baking. She has been playing classical music for almost 7 years. She also recently learned how to play the bass guitar and the clarinet. She shares her talent of playing piano in local assisted living centers. She has received numerous awards for her piano performance.
Gitanjali has recently open-sourced her lead detector invention processor and app code for the community and is continuing to perform accuracy testing in Denver Water for the lead sensor. Gitanjali currently is shadowing research in University of Colorado, Denver in department of Cell Biology. Gitanjali aspires to study genetics and epidemiology. She hopes to keep writing, discovering, and sharing her knowledge in the future.