Teen Scientist Gitanjali Rao Is 'Time' Magazine's 1st Ever Kid of the Year for 2020

'Time' Names Its Kid Of The Year: Water-Testing Scientist Gitanjali Rao
"Time" Magazine names its Kid of The Year: Water-Testing Scientist Gitanjali RaoTime

Gitanjali Rao, 15, is Time magazine's Kid of the Year. The teen scientist won praise for reacting to the Flint, Michigan, water crisis by inventing device that detects lead.

Teen scientist Gitanjali Rao as been named Time's first ever Kid of the Year, the magazine announced Thursday, praising her skill at using science to solve real problems while inspiring other young people.

The 15-year-old Colorado native has a long list of accomplishments: she was named America's Top Young Scientist when she was just a seventh grader. Last year, she was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, after receiving accolades for inventing a device that quickly detects lead in drinking water, which was her response to the 2017 water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Recently, she created an online tool called Kindly, which detects cyber bulling.

"You type in a word or phrase, and it's able to pick it up if it's bullying, and it gives you the option to edit it or send it the way it is," she told the magazine.

"The goal is not to punish. As a teenager, I know teenagers tend to lash out sometimes. Instead, it gives you the chance to rethink what you're saying so that you know what to do next time around."

The initiation of Kid of the Year was a joint effort by Time and Nickelodeon.

"I don't look like your typical scientist. Everything I see on TV is that it's an older, usually white man as a scientist," she said. 

"From personal experience, it's not easy when you don't see anyone else like you. So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it," said.

The magazine will announce next week its Person of the Year. 

In 2019, that honor went to another teen, 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. She was the first person under 25 to receive the award.