Melinda Gates noticed; you should, too. (And check out the NPR story to which Gates links.)
When the drinking water in Flint, Mich., became contaminated with lead, causing a major public health crisis, 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao took notice.
“I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years,” the seventh-grader told ABC News. “I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water.”
She saw her parents testing the water in their own home in Lone Tree, Colo., and was unimpressed by the options, which can be slow, unreliable or both.
“I went, ‘Well, this is not a reliable process and I’ve got to do something to change this,’ ” Rao told Business Insider.
Rao tells ABC that while she was doing her weekly perusal of MIT’s Materials Science and Engineering website to see “if there’s anything’s new,” she read about new technologies that could detect hazardous substances and decided to see whether they could be adapted to test for lead.
She pressed local high schools and universities to give her lab time and then hunkered down in the “science room” — outfitted with a big white table — that she persuaded her engineer parents to create in their home.
And she set about devising a more efficient solution: a device that could identify lead compounds in water and was portable and relatively inexpensive.
As she explains at lightning speed in her video submission for the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, her device consists of three parts. There is a disposable cartridge containing chemically treated carbon nanotube arrays, an Arduino-based signal processor with a Bluetooth attachment, and a smartphone app that can display the results.
(Film details:Published on Jul 18, 2017“Meet Gitanjali. Gitanjali hopes to reduce the time of lead detection in water by using a mobile app, to connect over Bluetooth to get status of water, almost immediately.”)
Stories like this should give you hope for our future. It’s clear that women should be encouraged to go into science and technology.
Stories like this should also get you out of your chair to yell at policy makers who cut funds for basic research, for education, and who rail against immigration. President Trump will not host the science fair that graced the White House for the past eight years. Time for you and me to stand up to demand support for science, and for women in science.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Melinda Gates.
- “Childhood Exposure To Lead Can Blunt IQ For Decades, Study Suggests,” Rae Ellen Bichell, NPR, March 28, 2017