Former Tennessee 4-H’ers Wins 3M Young Scientist Challenge

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Matt Horsman, Williamson County Director

In October, former Williamson County 4-H’er Gitanjali (Anjali) Rao won the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. The challenge, for 5th-8th grade students, awarded her the title of America’s Top Young Scientist! Anjali created a device called “Tethys” (named after the Greek goddess of fresh water) that detects lead com- pounds in water, is portable, and is relatively inexpensive.

Her device consists of three parts: a disposable cartridge containing chemically treated carbon nanotube arrays, an Arduino-based signal processor with a Bluetooth attachment, and a smartphone app that displays the results. Her device was inspired by the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Anjali submitted her entry via video application to the Young Scientist Challenge, where she was selected as one of the top ten finalists nationwide. From there, she and the other top ten contest- ants traveled to 3M’s headquarters in Minnesota for the final competition. The students worked together for two challenges using science to solve real-world projects and presented their final innovations to a panel of 3M scientists, school superintendents, and administrators from across the U.S.

Anjali was a member of Williamson County 4-H as a 4th through 6th grader, moving to Colorado in 2017. While a member of Williamson County 4-H, she participated in public speaking contests, demonstrations, was an officer of the Franklin Community Club, and organized several community service projects. She was also a member of the STEM Fun class for two years, taught by Jennifer Hartsell Stockdale, a 4-H alumnus, 4-H volunteer leader, and one of Anjali’s mentors.

Anjali has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America explaining her invention and rang the opening bell for the NY Stock Exchange on October 23rd. She plans to use to her $25,000 winnings to fund further development of her product and save some for college. Anjali hopes to someday become a geneticist or epidemiologist.

Williamson County 4-H’er Gitanjali (Anjali) Rao won the 2017 Discovery Edu- cation 3M Young Scientist Challenge and a check for $25,000.00