By Katie Kindelan
An 11-year-old girl inspired by the Flint, Mich., water crisis has been named “America’s Top Young Scientist” after she developed a device that can quickly detect lead levels in water.
“I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years,” Gitanjali Rao told ABC News. “I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water and I wanted to do something to change this.”
In Flint, elevated levels of lead were found in the city’s water supply after the city disconnected from Detroit’s water line as a cost-cutting measure and began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014.
Gitanjali, a seventh grader, also saw firsthand how complicated it can be to test water for lead by watching her parents, Bharathi Rao and Ram Rao, try to test the water in their Lone Tree, Colo., home.
She said she found a way to help solve the problem while browsing the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering’s website, a site she said she checks weekly to see “if there’s anything new.”
The website featured an article on new technologies used to detect hazardous substances, which Gitanjali figured she could adapt to detect lead.
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