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Gitanjali Rao, 15, is Time’s first-ever Kid of the Year for water cleaning invention and cyber bullying app

A TRAILBLAZING teen is Time Magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year for inventing a water cleaning invention after creating a cyber bullying app.

Gitanjali Rao, 15, from The Lone Tree, Colorado, was announced as Time's 2020 winner just one year after being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

The young scientist – who was chosen out of 5,000 nominees – revealed to Angelina Jolie the process of how she reached success.

Rao told the actress and Time contributing editor: "Observe, brainstorm, research, build and communicate."

At 11 years old, Rao was announced the winner of the Young Scientist Challenge after creating a mobile app to detect lead in drinking water.

She also created a service called Kindly, which uses an artificial-­intelligence technology to recognize early stages of cyberbullying.

Rao explained to Time: "I started to hard-code in some words that could be considered bullying, and then my engine took those words and identified words that are similar.

"You type in a word or phrase, and it’s able to pick it up if it’s bullying, and it gives you the option to edit it or send it the way it is. The goal is not to punish.

"As a teenager, I know teenagers tend to lash out sometimes. Instead, it gives you the chance to rethink what you’re saying so that you know what to do next time around."

At 10, Rao surprised her parents when she told them how she hoped to "research carbon nanotube sensor technology at the Denver Water quality research lab."

Her hard work paid off as Rao created a portable device at the age of 11, using a nanotechnology sensor-based water tester, to detect if drinking water has a harmful amount of lead.

The device, known as Tethys, quickly finds lead in water.

Rao has admitted to TIME that she is aware that she "doesn't look like your typical scientist" because scientists shown on TV are "usually white men."

She added: "My goal has really shifted not only from creating my own devices to solve the world’s problems, but inspiring others to do the same as well.

"Because, from personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you.

"So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it."

The young teen enjoys reading MIT Tech Review for inspiration in technology.

Rao has been a TEDx speaker three times - with one of her talks titled: "A Young Girl Scientist's Guide to Innovation."

She was also given the US Environmental Protection Agency President's Environmental Youth Award in 2018.

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