Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
Rachaell Davis
Dec, 26, 2017

The people of Flint, Michigan are still suffering through the aftermath of the ongoing water crisis that left the city without clean drinking water for over a year and one young scholar is looking to help out in a big way.

Colorado middle school student Gitanjali Rao is just 12-years-old, but she's already on track to make a major contribution to science with the invention of her new lead detector. The invention won Gitanjali $25,000 and the title of America's Top Young Scientist in the 2017 Young Scientist Challenge. The pre-teen shared how her concern for the residents of Flint sparked her idea for developing the lead detector.

"Imaging living day in and day out drinking contaminated water with dangerous substances like lead," she said while speaking during her presentation at the Young Scientist Challenge.  "Introducing tethys, the easy to use, fast, accurate, portable and inexpensive device to detect lead in water," Gitanjali said in her presentation for the Young Scientist Challenge. She won the national competition for her invention. 

According to CBS News, Gitanjali's device will allow for the detection of lead within seconds using carbon molecules and a mobile add. Previously, the procedure for detecting lead involved sending samples to a lab that then took days to process results.

"Our water quality's just as important as doctor's appointments or dentist's appointments," Gitanjali added. Her teacher, Simi Basu, is hopeful that her invention will soon make its' way to the market. 

"I am so confident that she will be able to take it to the market if we keep providing her help," Basu said, describing Gitanjali as a "risk taker" who isn't afraid to fail.