Twelve-year-old scientist Gitanjali Rao has been inventing since she was in kindergarten. Rao says that she has more than eight inventions, but it was Tethys — a 3D printed device that harnesses carbon nanotubes and a mobile app to test water for lead contamination in as little as 10 seconds — that won her the title of America's Top Young Scientist, and $25,000.
Rao says she was inspired to begin work on Tethys when she learned about communities in Michigan dealing with the devastating effects of lead-contaminated water.
"I was originally inspired by the Flint water crisis," she tells CNBC Make It. After talking about the issue with her family, Rao put herself in the shoes of those who were affected by contaminated water. "I was thinking about how they felt when they actually found out that there was lead in their water — that would be a really scary thought."