A 15-year-old scientist, Gitanjali Rao, from Denver, Colorado, has been named as Time magazine’s first “kid of the year”. She has invented new technologies and devices in different fields of science and technology. One of her notable inventions is the development of a device that can detect the presence of lead in drinking water. Another valuable accomplishment is the development of an app to detect cyberbullying using artificial intelligence.
In 1927, Time started awarding its “man of the year” honor which was later updated to “person of the year” and for the first time it has been named “kid of the year”. Climate activist Greta Thunberg won Time’s “person of the year” award in 2019. At the time, she was only 16 and became the youngest person to receive the title. She has spread awareness across the globe about the adverse effects of climate change. Her initiatives have shown the world how young people carry tremendous influence today and how that could transform the world for the better.
Gitanjali is a girl with big dreams. In an interview with actor and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, she said that she not only hopes to realize her dream to “solve the world’s problems” but also inspire others to do the same. Gitanjali was chosen for the pioneering title “kid of the year” from more than 5,000 US-based nominees who had significant contributions. In the interview with Jolie, Gitanjali also shared her personal experience and said it has been difficult not to find anyone else alike. This is why she wants to put out the message and support all young individuals by saying “If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it.” Gitanjali has also been named “America’s top young scientist” for inventing a device for the detection of lead in water.
The initiative from Time is a first step in encouraging young minds to think analytically, conduct ground-breaking research, and contribute to the well-being of society. The young generation also has inspirations like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who continue to innovate, inspire, and bring science and technology to our homes. It is for this reason that the perception of research is changing. The fruits of innovation are more easily seen today, in the age of social media which makes it resonate more with the younger generation.
During the process of choosing the most influential kids of 2020, TIME has looked across social media and schools for big and small contributions. Andrea Delbanco, TIME for Kids editor, believes that “Small steps can lead to big change,” and the contributions of these kids will have a greater impact on our society at large. Steps such as these will definitely motivate kids to take up research as a viable career option.