October 23, 2017
Gitanjali Rao, winner of the 3M and Discovery Education "Young Scientist Challenge," and her mentor Karen Shafer stop by for an interview after ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. They discuss the mission of the competition: to nurture young scientists while tackling the problems of today. 11-year-old Rao created a sensor device that tests for lead in water. Rao discusses the inspiration behind the device, and Shafer talks about what it was like working with the young scientist on the project. Gitanjali demos the device live on air, noting that her inspiration for the project came from the crisis in Flint, Michigan. She adds that she saw her parents testing their home's water for lead and realized how inefficient the process was. Shafer notes how much she has valued mentoring these young minds, the people she calls the future of science. Gitanjali named the device "Tethys," after the Goddess of Fresh Water. We ask what Gitanjali will do with the $25,000 she won as part of the competition. She adds that part of her winnings will go to developing the device but that she will also donate the money to some of the organizations she is part of, including Boy Scouts of America. We talk with the young scientist about her future. Rao hopes to go to MIT for college and is considering becoming a geneticist or epidemiologist.