11 Year Old Invents Lead Detecting Device



By: Aafreen Ali

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan started in 2014 and has been going on for three years. Cost-cutting measures by companies in that area led the water in Flint to be contaminated by lead and other toxins from factories. The water is unsafe to drink and causes serious rashes when it comes in contact with human skin. Luckily, there is a solution that can be implemented in Flint in a few years.

Image result for gitanjali rao
Source- Young Scientist Lab

11 year old Gitanjali Rao was troubled by the water crisis and decided to take action. Rao, the daughter of two engineers, had seen her parents testing water in their backyard and was disappointed in the different processes, which are very slow and unreliable. Rao decided to change that and develop a new process. She read about new technology used to test water and adapted it to detect lead and other lead compounds. The process is very complicated and difficult to explain, but if you would like to read more about the functions and components of Rao’s device, click here.

Rao entered her invention in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, where she earned first place. She was named America’s Top Young Scientist of the Year this year. She hopes her invention will help save lives in Flint, and who knows? Maybe the Colorado seventh grader’s invention may be the thing that saves Flint.

This relates to engineering because Gitanjali Rao used the engineering process while developing her lead detecting device. She first did background research on the technology necessary to create something like what she was thinking. Then, she found a way to make her invention reality and developed her solution. She had many errors along the way, so she constantly made changes to her design. Finally, she communicated her results to the world. This is a great example of engineering and the engineering process affecting our world each and every day.

Source- NPR

Watch Rao’s Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist submission video