News

A Rising STEM Scout

TFK interviews young scientist Anjali Rao about her work in the STEM Scouts program and beyond

April 14, 2017
THE RAO FAMILY

STEM Scout Anjali Rao, 10, combines her passions for science, animals, and health in her work.

This young scientist doesn’t let her age stop her! At only 10 years old, Anjali Rao has excelled in the STEM Scouts. This program was designed by the Boy Scouts of America to help kids learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Anjali is combining her love of science, animals, and health in the program. The sixth grader from Brentwood, Tennessee, wants to become a scientist who finds cures for diseases. During the 2015-2016 school year, she created a prototype of a camera that detects the heat from a snakebite to help diagnose infection. Anjali also won first place in the Engineer Girl National Essay Contest for her essay “Emerging Biometrics Technology for Securing Cyberspace.” From developing prototypes to winning national awards, Rao has taken her STEM passion to a new level.

TFK Kid Reporter Caroline Curran talked to Rao about her work in the field of science and more.

TIME FOR KIDS:

How did you first become interested in science?

ANJALI RAO:

Science has always been my favorite subject in school. I have always loved doing experiments with my parents. Science is something that I am passionate about. It is easier for me to learn through experiments, and science helps me get the concept and understand topics.

TFK:

When did you become a STEM Scout and what do you study in the program?

ANJALI:

I started the STEM Scouts program last year. The first thing that I learn, which has been really helpful when creating my projects, is Tinkercad, which is a 3D modeling software. In Tinkercad, I can put the representations I have in my brain onto paper. It really helps me map out my prototype and what it will look like. Other things I learn include structural design, robotics, hydraulics, and forensics.

Anjali developed a thermograpy camera that looks at the infected area of a snake bite to reduce the time between the bite and finding the right kind of treatment.

ANJALI RAO
Anjali developed a thermograpy camera that looks at the infected area of a snake bite to reduce the time between the bite and finding the right kind of treatment.

TFK:

Tell me about your prototype camera for snakebites.

ANJALI:

My device reduces the time between a snakebite and medical treatment. It uses non-contact thermography technology to look at the affected area of a snakebite and determine how bad the bite is. It determines its severity, whether it is venomous and, if it is venomous, the type of venom that was injected. I really enjoyed finding out how different temperatures of the body related to venom.

TFK:

In March, TFK talked to women about Women’s History Month. What women in history have inspired you?

ANJALI:

Many women in history have inspired me, but one in particular is Marie Curie. I read about her all the time! She was a very brave and courageous woman who was willing to take risks to solve worldwide problems. She was very determined and persevered in discovering the radium and polonium elements.

TFK:

Research shows that there are less girls interested in STEM than boys. Why do you think that is?

ANJALI:

I think it is all in the mind. We say blue is a “boy color” and pink is a “girl color.” I don’t believe in that type of stuff. I recently read an article that said girls between the ages of eleven and thirteen lose interest in science and technology because of wanting to be like their other friends who focus on traditional women’s careers. Most people believe these include fashion, design, or modeling. That’s why I believe fewer girls are involved in STEM than boys.

TFK:

You won first place in the Engineer Girl National Essay Contest. What did you write about and how did it feel to win?

ANJALI:

On your phone, there is a fingerprint scan. These scans are not just for phones, but other more serious things. Fingerprint scans can easily be hacked. I was thinking of other things that we could use instead of fingerprints. I have two main ideas. The one that I wrote about in the Engineer Girl competition is olfactory. I have figured out that mostly everyone has a different sense of smell, so according to the different senses of smell, you could identify a person. The second one is the pattern of brain signals. Every person has a unique pattern, so you could identify a person through that, too.

TFK:

What would you like to be when you grow up?

ANJALI:

Honestly, I change my mind everyday! Two things that I am thinking about being are a geneticist or epidemiologist. Right now, I like to find cures to diseases, so I may enjoy working in that field of skin diseases and gene problems.

TFK:

What message do you have for other aspiring kid scientists?

ANJALI:

I would tell aspiring kids scientists to just have fun while learning. Don’t give up if you don’t find a solution. Always ask the question “Why?” I have always enjoyed the process of researching and finding a solution. If I fail, I will come back and try a different method. I would say to never give up and have fun!

To learn more about STEM Scouts visit www.STEMScouts.org


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