This is why your children need to know about Gitanjali Rao: She understands that her achievements have a domino effect. It’s a story we’ve heard many times over from people of all kinds - growing up in the United States, Gitanjali didn’t see faces like hers in the spotlight. Female Ethnic Minorities did not invent things. They did not trail blaze. And they certainly didn’t make scientific discoveries or breakthroughs. But what happens when one of them… does?
So who is Gitanjali Rao?
Gitanjali Rao is best known for her invention called “Tethys”, a device that can detect lead in drinking water instantaneously. She developed this technology because of a water contamination incident that occurred in another town, in another state, over 1,000 miles away. At the age of 11, she was able to develop an effective and affordable water testing solution and took home the top prize in the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. “Never be afraid to try,” she says.
Unlike other rising stars in the field of science, Gitanjali isn’t driven by a problem, she is driven by problems in general. Her other achievements include authoring and illustrating her own book, developing an app that detects cyber bullying, and work on another invention that leverages genetics to manage issues with drug addiction. Her modus operandi is: Observe, brainstorm, research, build and communicate. More than communicating findings and solutions, she imparts this piece of sage advice: “Don’t try to fix every problem, just focus on one that excites you.”
So what does this mean?
Passion is universal and contagious, which is why it’s so important that each and every one of us, especially our children, amplifies that burst of energy that comes with being completely absorbed by a problem that fascinates us through sharing and inspiring others.
Named as the first-ever Kid of the Year by TIME Magazine in 2020, and a trailblazer in the world of science and invention by her own right, Gitanjali has really shaken things up simply by pursuing her love of problem-solving. "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. Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you.” Acknowledging the shortage of diversity in STEM superstars, she’s solving that problem by making herself into one. Most importantly, she recognizes that she and all of her achievements are not isolated events but together, creates an echo effect in the cohort of young minds that she reaches. A domino at the front of a domino chain, she lives by this message: “ If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it," she says.
Here is a thought of the week that might help your child appraise the real impact of their achievements by thinking about more than themselves!