LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRLS!
Happy Woman’s Day
I went in search of another story about an inspiring girl and didn’t have to look very far. Please read about Gitanjali Rao who at 12 years old recognized that water polluted with lead was a massive problem for many people worldwide and set out to help. She has invented a lead detection system.
Gitanjali Rao, a seventh grader from Colorado, has been awarded the title of “America’s top young scientist” for designing a compact device to detect lead in drinking water, which she believes can be faster and cheaper than other current methods.
It also won her a $25,000 prize, for which Rao already has plans: “I plan to use most of it in developing my device further so that it can be commercially available soon,” she told CNN.
An invisible enemy
“After I learned about Flint,” said Rao, “I continued to research and follow it for the next couple years. Then, I saw my parents testing for lead in our water and that is pretty much what sparked the idea. I realized that using test strips would take quite a few tries to get accurate results and I wanted to do something to change this, not only for my parents but for the residents of Flint and places like Flint around the world.”
Rao thinks her device could become a competitively priced alternative: “The prototype cost just over $20 to make, but all of the materials were custom-manufactured. At bulk, I expect the production cost to be significantly less than that.”
How it works
The Tethys device prototype.
When dipped in contaminated water, the special atoms react with lead molecules and add resistance to a flow of current in the nanotubes, which is then easily detected by the device: “The amount of resistance is proportional to the amount of lead in the water. The processor includes an attachment that sends the measurements over Bluetooth to a smartphone. The smartphone app, that I custom developed, captures this data and shows the results on a user-friendly scale.”
Rao thinks that Tethys will be better than both lab testing and strips: “Testing water in labs is the most accurate test available today, however, it takes time and requires expensive equipment not easily accessible to everybody. On the other end, test strips are easy to use, but they do not quantify the contamination and are sometimes inaccurate requiring multiple tests.”
“My solution addresses all of the above issues. It uses a disposable cartridge that can cost as low as a dollar, it is fast, accurate and it shows lead contamination levels on a regular smartphone, that are easy to interpret and take appropriate action,” she said.
Gitanjali Rao with Kathleen Shafer.
Along with nine other finalists, she then presented her work to a panel of 3M scientists and school representatives from across the country, and won: “I think the judges recognized the significant progress Gitanjali made over the summer, advancing her project from a cardboard box prototype to building out Tethys’ software and 3D-printed hardware. She also initiated some fundamental lab studies to investigate how aspects of her proposed sensor could work in the future,” said Shafer. She remains cautious about the commercial future of the device: “For commercial products, it’s important to establish technical feasibility, manufacturing feasibility, and a strong business case. As mentors we really focus on supporting the finalists in the early research phase of technical feasibility.”
Rao, on the other hand, has clear plans: “I hope to make it commercially available in the next year so that it’s in everybody’s hands.”
The information came from CNN.
I invite you to leave a link to a post about a remarkable woman, young woman, girl in the comments section.