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2020 Kid of the Year Gitanjali Rao is featured on the Dec. 14 cover of TIME. © Time Inc.

15-year-old Scientist from Colorado Lands on the Cover of TIME as the 2020 Kid of the Year

Gitanjali Rao, 15, is recognized as the 2020 Kid of the Year for her mission to create a global community of young innovators to solve the world's biggest problems

Published on December 03, 2020

TIME, TIME for Kids and Nickelodeon announced 15-year-old scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao from Colorado as the 2020 Kid of the Year, the multiplatform initiative recognizing extraordinary young leaders who are making a positive impact in their communities.

Selected from a field of more than 5,000, 2020 Kid of the Year Gitanjali Rao is featured on the Dec. 14 cover of TIME, available on newsstands on Friday, Dec. 4.

In an interview with Angelina Jolie for TIME, Rao spoke about her work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying: “I don’t look like your typical scientist. Everything I see on TV is that it’s an older, usually white man as a scientist. It’s weird to me that it was almost like people had assigned roles, regarding like their gender, their age, the color of their skin. 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. So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it.”

Kid of the Year Gitanjali Rao, alongside the other top finalists and honorees, will be recognized during the first-ever Kid of the Year TV special, hosted by Trevor Noah. The special will simulcast across Nickelodeon, TV Land, TeenNick and Nicktoons on Friday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT). It will also air on Comedy Central on Friday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. (ET/PT) and CBS Television Network on Monday, Dec. 21, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).

The Kid of the Year TV special will feature guest stars from entertainment, sports and pop culture to help surprise the top five Kid of the Year honorees and celebrate their work. Celebrity guests making appearances throughout the special include Kristen Bell, Simone Biles, Dixie D’Amelio, Billie Eilish, Rob Gronkowski, Neil Patrick Harris, Chris Hemsworth, Ken Jeong, Angelina Jolie, Chloe Kim, Brie Larson, Zachary Levi, Russell Westbrook and Malala Yousafzai, among others.

Each of the top five Kid of the Year honorees will receive a cash prize from Nickelodeon and have the opportunity to serve as a Kid Reporter for TIME for Kids with exclusive access to a Nickelodeon event. For additional information about the initiative, visit

Nickelodeon’s Kid of the Year is sponsored by © 2020 The LEGO Group and Lysol®.

Nickelodeon’s Kid of the Year TV special is a co-production of TIME Studios, Day Zero Productions, Mainstay Entertainment and Nickelodeon, with Rebecca Gitlitz and Jeff Smith serving as Showrunners. Executive Producers include Andrea Delbanco (TIME for Kids), Ian Orefice, Alexa Conway and Mike Beck (TIME Studios), Trevor Noah and Haroon Saleem (Day Zero Productions), Norm Aladjem, Derek Van Pelt and Sanaz Yamin (Mainstay Entertainment) and Rob Bagshaw, Stacey Carr and Paul J Medford (Nickelodeon). Production of Nickelodeon’s Kid of the Year is overseen by Rob Bagshaw, Executive Vice President, Unscripted Content.

Deputy Editor