Gitanjali Rao

Gitanjali Rao is 12 years old and is a 8th grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, CO. She was named America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge with a device to detect lead in water faster than any other current techniques. She is also the grand-prize winner of a world-wide Paradigm challenge.

She is a Davidson Young Scholar since 2012, and has received several scholarships and awards for achievements in science, arts and community service. She is an active STEM promoter and is involved in promoting STEM based activities in schools, clubs and the community. She was selected as the STEM Scout of the Year in 2016-2017 for an invention that detects poisonous snake-bite and was selected as one of the 12 delegates to Report to the Nation in the year 2017-2018.


Gitanjali has won awards for her writing in national and international contests. She published her first book at age of 9, called, “Baby Brother Wonders.” The self-illustrated book, based on the story that won 2nd prize in the PBS national writing contest, described the world through her younger brother’s point of view. Gitanjali has also won first place in the International Aviation Art Contest for last four years at the state level and her art is displayed in Nashville International Airport. She was a “TIME for Kids” Kid reporter for the 2017-2018 school year. Apart from writing and art, Gitanjali is part of STEM Scouts and 4-H club.

Some of Gitanjali’s hobbies include playing the piano, Indian classical dancing and singing, swimming, fencing, and baking. She has been playing classical music for almost 8 years. She also recently learned how to play the bass guitar and the clarinet. She shares her talent of playing piano in local assisted living centers and organizes performances with group of volunteers. She has received numerous awards for her piano performance. She received the Nicholas Green Distinguished Award and Kohl's National scholarship for her community service.

Gitanjali has been an active volunteer for an organization called Children’s Kindness Network that spreads an anti-bullying message, and promotes the importance of kindness in all of us. She conducts workshops in elementary schools and hopes to educate children about kindness when they are still young.

She recently gave two TEDx talks apart from speaking in several girls' conference and was invited as a UNICEF panelist for being a role-model of Youth to power the planet. When she grows up, Gitanjali aspires to study genetics and epidemiology in MIT. Gitanjali hopes to keep writing, discovering, and sharing her knowledge in the future.

Awards and Recognition

2015 Published a self-illustrated book called "Baby Brother Wonders"
2017 Grand Prize winner of Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, named America's Top Young Scientist
2017 Future Engineer Finalist 2017 Two for the Crew Challenge
2017 "TIME for Kids" kid reporter
2018 Speaker at Makers Conference
2018 Speaker at TEDx Chennai
2018 Speaker at TEDx Nashville
2018 UNICEF panelist
2018 Keynote speaker in LEADLIKEAGIRL conference in Stuart Day school, Princeton
2018 BrainsOn! Podcast: What's in your water?
2018 BrainsOn! Podcast: Weird Water
2018 BrainsOn! Podcast: Cuyahoga - River of Fire
2018 Guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
2018 Recognized as part of Forbes 30 Under 30 for science
2018 Highlighted in Google's docuseries "Search On" for invention of Tethys.
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