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12 Year Old Gitanjali Rao Invents Device To Aid With Flint Water Crisis

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It has been three years since the water crisis in Flint, Michigan was brought to the attention of mainstream media and yet, the problem still exists. The water supply of Flint, a city populated by a majority of Black and poor residents has been contaminated with lead, leaving citizens with little to know water for basic necessities including drinking and bathing.

Many have aimed to solve the problem beyond politicians and elected officials. Big Sean, Cher, Meek Mill, Wiz Khalifa, Diddy, Eminem, Madonna and more celebrities have all donated bottled water, time money to decrease the trauma experienced by Flint residents. Local community leaders such as Mari Copeny, more popularly known as ‘Little Miss Flint’ have taken it upon themselves to improve their living conditions.



Americans across the country also organized donated water, time and money to the afflicted city. Bothered by knowing that the city over 1000 miles away needed clean water, 12 year old Gitanjali Rio decided to attempt to correct the problem rather than provide solutions.

Imaging living day in and day out drinking contaminated water with dangerous substances like lead. Introducing tethys, the easy to use, fast, accurate, portable and inexpensive device to detect lead in water,” Gitanjali said during her presentation for the Young Scientist Challenge.


Gitanjali’s invention which landed her $25,000 and the title of America’s Top Young Scientist in the 2017 Young Scientist Challenge makes the water testing process more efficient. Rather than take days to send water samples off to a lab, her device instantly detects lead using carbon molecules and a mobile app.  One of her teachers, Simi Basu believes the invention can breakthrough and succeed in the main market.


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