This week, 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao was named the nation’s top young scientist. The Lone Tree, Colo. native took home the top prize of $25,000 at the 10th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, a months-long journey that culminated in a live final competition this week in St. Paul, Minn.
Rao’s project, called Tethys, is a sensor-based device that tests water for lead faster than any device currently on the market.
The device is portable and easy to use, and Rao hopes to help solve the water contamination crisis and decrease health effects caused by lead exposure.
Finalists were selected earlier this summer and spent months working with 3M mentors to refine and improve their final projects.
The ten teenagers were chosen from thousands of applicants. During the mulitple-day final competition, the students worked together for two challenges where they used science to solve real-world projects, as well as presenting their final innovations to a panel of 3M scientists, school superintendents and administrators from across the U.S.