TIME magazine announces the first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’ honoring a 15-year-old scientist named Gitanjali Rao. The young Indian-American scientist is being honored for her efforts to combat social issues including cyberbullying, contaminated water, and opioid addiction.
TIME selected Rao from a field of over 5,000 candidates (ages 8 to 16) to feature on the cover along with an interview with actress and activist Angelina Jolie. Rao is working to tackle social issues through her mission to create a global community of young innovators.
— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18News) December 4, 2020
In the interview, Rao reveals that her main driving force is her desire to make people happy and by the age of 10 she wanted to learn more about carbon nanotube sensor technology. This technology utilized cylindrical molecules made of carbon atoms that can detect chemical changes that can be used to test water quality.
Rao’s inspiration might have started with clean water but she also explored using technology to combat cyberbullying. Roa developed an app and Chrome browser extension called Kindly that helps to detect cyberbullying with AI technology.
Indo-American 15-year-old scientist-inventor Gitanjali Rao has been named #KidOfTheYear 2020 by @TIME, in a recognition of her efforts in tackling drinking water contamination, opioid addiction & cyberbullying.#tech2Sciencehttps://t.co/N0jw7s3j2G
— Tech2 (@tech2eets) December 4, 2020
Kindly can detect and prevent bullying when people are using the platform are provided with suggested edits to prevent people from writing something that could be considered cyberbullying. Roa says that user functions reinforce users to consider what they’re writing and the chance to rethink about what they write in the future.
Roa explains that she isn’t a “typical scientist” and engaged in innovation sessions to share what worked for her with others through her process of observation, brainstorming, researching, building, and communicating. The young scientist runs innovation workshops through partnerships with the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, the Shanghai International Youth Science, girls in STEM organizations, rural schools, and museums around the world.