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Gitanjali Rao is 12 years old and a 7th 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 for inventing the fastest lead contamination detector in the world. She is a Davidson Young Scholar, and has received scholarships for achievements in science, arts, and community service. Every year, Gitanjali participates in an art aviation competition where she draws airplanes and other flying machines. She received 1st place in the state of TN for 3 consecutive years and her art is displayed in the Nashville International Airport.

Gitanjali’s first published book, ­Baby Brother Wonders, won 2nd place in the PBS Kids Writing Contest, a national writing competition for young authors. Gitanjali wrote and illustrated the  book when she was nine years old. Baby Brother Wonders shows the world through her little brother’s point-of-view.

Some of Gitanjali’s hobbies include playing the piano, swimming, fencing, and baking. She has played classical music for almost seven years. She also recently learned how to play the bass guitar and the clarinet. When she grows up, Gitanjali aspires to study genetics and epidemiology. Gitanjali hopes to keep writing, discovering, and sharing her knowledge.

Gitanjali is working on her next book, a kids' guide to scientific innovation, and lives in Lone Tree, Colorado with her parents and five-year-old brother, Anirudh. 

You can learn more about Gitanjali's award-winning lead contamination detector here, as well as on the BBC and NPR.