STEM Scout Gitanjali Rao named TIME’s Kid of the Year
Fifteen-year-old scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao, who went through the Boy Scouts of America’s STEM Scouts programme as a young girl, has been honoured as TIME’s first-ever Kid of the Year in 2020.
Gitanjali was selected as one of five Kid of the Year finalists from a field of more than 5,000 Americans between the ages of 8 to 16 for her extraordinary and positive contribution towards society.
Gitanjali has been experimenting and inventing since she was young, using science and technology to tackle a wide range of physical and mental health challenges. She’s tested the use of mobile devices to detect lead in contaminated drinking water, and more recently invented a phone and web tool named Kindly, which uses artificial intelligence technology to pick up the possible early signs of cyberbullying.
In an interview for TIME with Academy Award–winning actor and special envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie, Gitanjali highlighted the challenges today’s youth are having to confront.
“Our generation is facing so many problems that we’ve never seen before. There are problems that we did not create but that we now have to solve, like climate change and cyberbullying with the introduction of technology,” said Gitanjali who remained hopeful about creating change and impact through small actions that can add up to make a big differenc4e. The key, she says, is to be passionate!
“I think more than anything right now, we just need to find that one thing we’re passionate about and solve it. Even if it’s something as small as, I want to find an easy way to pick up litter. Everything makes a difference. Don’t feel pressured to come up with something big."
Gitanjali has been collecting one award after another over the years for her groundbreaking scientific work and inventions, first as the Boy Scout of America’s Middle Tennessee Council’s STEM Scout of the Year and then as the 2017 Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge. The honour of becoming TIME’s first Kid of the Year is just the next step for a brilliant young woman who is already on the rise and committed to creating a better world.
STEM Scouts is programme of the Boy Scouts of America that introduces young people to science, technology, engineering and math, providing educational opportunities for girls and boys to interact with professionals in hands-on lab sessions and learn by doing.