She’s 11: America’s top young scientist works to help detect problems in Flint’s water supply, and yours


NPR caption: Gitanjali Rao, 11, says she was appalled by the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich. — so she designed a device to test for lead faster. She was named

NPR caption: Gitanjali Rao, 11, says she was appalled by the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich. — so she designed a device to test for lead faster. She was named “America’s Top Young Scientist” on Tuesday at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn. Andy King/Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

Melinda Gates noticed; you should, too. (And check out the NPR story to which Gates links.)

NPR tells the story:

When the drinking water in Flint, Mich., became contaminated with lead, causing a major public health crisis, 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao took notice.

“I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years,” the seventh-grader told ABC News. “I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water.”

She saw her parents testing the water in their own home in Lone Tree, Colo., and was unimpressed by the options, which can be slow, unreliable or both.

“I went, ‘Well, this is not a reliable process and I’ve got to do something to change this,’ ” Rao told Business Insider.

Rao tells ABC that while she was doing her weekly perusal of MIT’s Materials Science and Engineering website to see “if there’s anything’s new,” she read about new technologies that could detect hazardous substances and decided to see whether they could be adapted to test for lead.

She pressed local high schools and universities to give her lab time and then hunkered down in the “science room” — outfitted with a big white table — that she persuaded her engineer parents to create in their home.

And she set about devising a more efficient solution: a device that could identify lead compounds in water and was portable and relatively inexpensive.

As she explains at lightning speed in her video submission for the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, her device consists of three parts. There is a disposable cartridge containing chemically treated carbon nanotube arrays, an Arduino-based signal processor with a Bluetooth attachment, and a smartphone app that can display the results.

(Film details:

Published on Jul 18, 2017
“Meet Gitanjali. Gitanjali hopes to reduce the time of lead detection in water by using a mobile app, to connect over Bluetooth to get status of water, almost immediately.”)

Stories like this should give you hope for our future. It’s clear that women should be encouraged to go into science and technology.

Stories like this should also get you out of your chair to yell at policy makers who cut funds for basic research, for education, and who rail against immigration. President Trump will not host the science fair that graced the White House for the past eight years. Time for you and me to stand up to demand support for science, and for women in science.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Melinda Gates.

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One Response to She’s 11: America’s top young scientist works to help detect problems in Flint’s water supply, and yours

  1. Jim says:

    OK: Women are already encouraged to go in the STEM subjects. They even have gender specific scholarships for college. This is a puff piece in furthering that encouragement.

    This is a much better story that the Muslim kid who took apart a digital clock and put it in a briefcase and took it to school for no apparent purpose. And then got to see President Obama.

    It also helps to have parents who are engineers, so let’s increase immigration of skilled migrants…..like say Canada’s policy ( no stupid migrant lottery there).

    I actually teach this project in year 7 technology. Using Arduino and a CO2 sensor. Student real time monitor CO2 levels in an model enclosure and use bluetooth to send it to student’s phones. ( that sucks them in) them they can signal back and start a fan. They also setup their own weather station and data plot temp, humidity etc.

    She’s only 11 though and the sensor sounds something specifically built for purpose….so cool

    It has been done before

    https://devpost.com/software/real-time-lead-detector-for-water-supply#updates

    Again by two girls from immigrant family’s no less- I know both facts are important to you so I mention it.

    Like

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