Innovation

This Young Scientist Created an App to Test Water for Pollutants

Sahithi Pingali, a young inventor, has developed an app to test safety levels of fresh water.
 
“I can remember, as long as I’ve lived in Bangalore, [India] whenever we drove past Varthur Lake, which is like famously, like, the stinkiest lake in Bangalore, like, we would slam the bus windows closed and be like, ‘Everybody, hold your nose!’” she said. “But that was it. Like, that was our engagement with the problem.”
 
Years later, on a field trip, Pingali had to interview people who actually lived near the polluted lake, which made her want to take action and fix it. She worked to develop a crowdsourcing water-monitoring app that lets users test the safety levels of fresh water. They can then upload their results onto a map. Anyone can then compare the health and contamination levels of bodies of water around the globe.
 
“When I was doing activism, it was really hard to find information about even something as, like, simple as what is causing that weird foam in the lake,” she said. “How are you supposed to make change if you don’t know what you’re trying to solve?”
 
Pingali is one of eight young scientists featured in “Inventing Tomorrow,” a documentary directed by Laura Nix that follows teen innovators developing solutions for environmental issues in their communities.
 
For those who want to solve problems in their own communities, Pingali urges “don’t accept it,” and take small steps to enact change.
 
“I’d say, really, don’t limit yourself,” she explained. “’Cause everyone who’s making change right now is just a person who decided to care and step up.”