At just 15 years old, Gitanjali Rao is a scientist and an inventor, using tech to correct the wrongs of the world. She’s also Time Magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year.
Rao is developing nanotube sensor technology to detect chemicals or parasites in contaminated water; tackling cyberbullying with AI and empathy; and, working on a product that could help identify addiction to prescription opioids at the early stages.
On top of all that, she’s mentored 30,000 other students, and is building a network of young innovators each working on solving the problems of the world.
“I cannot see a world filled of kindness without science and technology being involved,” Rao says in Time‘s Kid of the Year video.
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In an interview with Angelina Jolie for Time, Rao says she just wants to bring positivity into the community. The way she does that is by using science and tech for social change.
“This work is going to be in our generation’s hands pretty soon,” she said.
“If no one else is gonna do it, I’m gonna do it.”
Rao was selected by a panel of judges — mostly also made up of influential youngsters — as one of five finalists.
Another entrepreneurial front-runner was 14-year-old Jordan Reeves, who has created a 3D-printable prosthetic limb that doubles as a toy (it shoots out biodegradable glitter) for children who, like her, have limb differences.
Elsewhere, 10-year-old Bellen Woodard aspires to be both an astronaut and president of the US. In the meantime, she has settled for ‘crayon activism’. She’s created her own line of ‘skin colour’ crayons, representing various different tones.
The other finalists included Ian McKenna, who spearheaded a vegetable garden project at his school to help feed the 25% of kids who weren’t getting enough to eat at home.
Now, the 16-year-old has gardens in five schools and has been running gardening and cooking tutorials online throughout COVID-19.
And finally, Tyler Gordon is a 14-year-old artist who has overcome a ream of health challenges and horrific bullying, rising to prominence for his paintings of black icons who inspire him.
Now, he’s using his art to raise awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality in the US.
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Do you know an entrepreneurial young Aussie who could be the next Melanie Perkins or Mike Cannon-Brookes? We would love to hear about them.