(BBC) – A teenage scientist and inventor named Time magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year has said she hopes to inspire others to come up with ideas to “solve the world’s problems”.
Gitanjali Rao, 15, has invented technologies including a device that can identify lead in drinking water, and an app that detects cyberbullying.
She was chosen from more than 5,000 US nominees for the landmark title.
“If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it,” she said.
In an interview for Time magazine with actor and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, Ms Rao said she does not look like “your typical scientist”.
“Everything I see on TV is that it’s an older, usually white man as a scientist,” she said.
“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.”
Ms Rao, from the US state of Colorado, said there are many issues that need to be solved.
“Our generation is facing so many problems that we’ve never seen before. But then at the same time we’re facing old problems that still exist,” she told Time.
“Like, we’re sitting here in the middle of a new global pandemic, and we’re also like still facing human-rights issues. There are problems that we did not create but that we now have to solve, like climate change and cyberbullying with the introduction of technology.”
The Time award is just the latest accolade for Ms Rao.
She was previously named “America’s top young scientist” for inventing a quick, low-cost test to detect lead-contaminated water.
Time magazine began naming its Man of the Year in 1927, and later updated it to Person of the Year.
Last year, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who inspired a global movement to fight climate change, became the youngest person ever to be chosen by the magazine.
Time said the new Kid of the Year title was a “barometer for the rising leaders of America’s youngest generation”.
It is set to announce its 2020 Person of the Year next week.