Fifteen-year-old Gitanjali Rao, of Lone Tree, is no stranger to Colorado Parent readers. We first met her in our November 2018 profile, “6 Colorado Kids Making a Difference.” (She also appeared on the cover that month, above left). Since then, this young phenom has continued to create solutions that make a positive impact on our world, gaining recognition along the way. She was recently named Time magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year, gracing the magazine’s December 14, 2020 cover.
Along with a device that uses carbon nanotube technology to detect lead contamination in water, Gitanjali’s other projects include an app that uses artificial intelligence to detect cyberbullying language in outgoing messages, thus allowing senders to think twice before they hit send, and a product that helps to diagnose early-stage prescription opioid addiction based on protein production of the mu opioid receptor gene.
Not content with creating technology that helps people live better lives, Gitanjali is on a mission to help others do the same. She has mentored more than 30,000 students worldwide through her online Innovation Sessions, where she shares her process of “observe, brainstorm, research, build, communicate.” Her advice to others in her generation who want to make a difference: “Dream big, then think back to reality.
As Gitanjali said in her Time magazine interview, conducted by actor and activist Angelina Jolie, “My goal has really shifted not only from creating my own devices to solve the world’s problems, but inspiring others to do the same as well.”