Gitanjali Rao, Karlie Kloss & Megan Smith | 2018 MAKERS Conference
Karlie Kloss, Fashion Model and Entrepreneur, interviewed by Megan Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Shift7 about girls and STEAM. Then Gitanjali Rao, America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017, demonstrates her lead-detection device built in response to the Flint, Michigan water crisis.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Karlie Kloss and Megan Smith. Hello Karlie.
- Hi Megan.
- Welcome to Maker Stage.
- Thank you. This is incredible.
- It's incredible, and there's a theme going. Hearing Fei-Fei Li just now was fabulous. So we were talking backstage. There's so many programs, and so many different things going on. And I really wanted to have the chance to highlight the collection of what you were doing. And when we were in the White House, we were looking at how to get more of us, Americans, women, people of color, everybody in the planet, to be into these power tools. Into this area with their own creativity. And the components of that that you're using are all the, kind of, best practices. So let's dive into one of it is just do it. Like having the experiences. So with the camps. Talk a little bit about how you came to that and what you're doing.
- Well I think you said the key word creativity. And I think that's one thing that, you know, a lot of people don't realize is that using code and technology in really creative ways-- I mean there's infinite possibilities with what you can do. And I think, you know, seeing what Fei-Fei is doing with AI, and kind of humanizing that also. And the thing is, first and foremost, it has to start with learning the skills and access to the learning. And I think that's how you make bigger impact on, you know, what the future leaders of our, you know, in these industries look like, because you have to start with teaching them the ABCs of code.
And so what you just saw is a little clip of what we, a series that we did to really highlight and tell the stories of incredible women who I love what you-- your presentation before about the hidden figures. I mean, there are so many incredible women in so many different industries who have very technical skill sets, but are working in really creative industries, and doing really creative things with their technical chemical engineering background. And I think that's what's so exciting. It's about all the creative ways that you can use, kind of, this technical knowledge to supercharge whatever it is you're passionate about.
And so we have summer camps to teach girls to learn how to code.
- And they're incredibly successful. So they have summer camps. One of things is, you know, getting started. So 9 out of 10 parents would like coding taught at school in the United States and you have computer science for all. And that's a movement, and you guys are a big part of that. You know, you didn't have access at the time to jump in everyone's classroom, but you got moving. And you're really scaling. And your kids are-- starting to come into the industry, and mentor. It's a really cool method. So talk a little bit about the beginning and where you are.
- So I'm a fashion model, first and foremost. I don't have a master's in computer science or, you know, I want to learn more about AI and so I'm going to go and join--
- There was a business deal going down.
- Yeah, exactly.
- We're going to get the AI camp.
- But I'm a model, but I'm also a student of life. I'm super curious, and I was kind of watching all of these-- the ways that technology has transformed our world, media, fashion, commerce, communications, everything. And I, just as a consumer of it all, I was like, what is this language that these entrepreneurs are building incredible businesses? What do they know that the rest of the world doesn't know? And code, it's a language at the end of the day. And so I, over the summer, I had a bit of time off. And I took a code class, and I was like, wow, this is incredible. How you can scale problem solving, you know, its creative problem solving at the end of the day. And even though I'm a fashion model, and maybe not what somebody would think that an engineer would look like, you know, I am first and foremost, I've met so many brilliant incredible engineers which is why we did this series. And it's just the tip of the iceberg.
There are so many women who are, kind of, combining this technical skill set with creative problem solving in ways that they're really passionate about. And I have this audience of young women who follow me, and I kind of had this aha moment, where I was like, learning how to code has been transformational in how I see the world and opportunities to build businesses, or make social impact, and scale that using tech. And I didn't have access to this Learning when I was growing up. I went to great public school in St. Louis, and I wanted to create access to the learning, first and foremost. And then also bring light to incredible women who are already the Trail Blazers, like yourself. I mean, who have defeated the odds to lead in their industries.
- Yeah, and right now you guys, I think, you're going to be in 50 cities this summer. This is a-- it's free.
- So what so what we started is Kode with Klossy, and it's a two week long summer camp where we teach girls Ruby, HTML, CSS, basically how to build something. And it started out with 21 girls that I just underwrote a scholarship for, and what they went on to do was incredible. They were winning hackathons, and scholarships, full rides to incredible schools. And I was like, OK, how can I grow this and reach more girls? And we had thousands and thousands of applications for those 21 spots. And so it's grown organically.
We have 1,000 girls we are going to teach this summer, and 50 camps across the country, and I'm really excited because, you know, it's about these girls. We actually have one of our scholars here, Sophia [? Angle. ?]
- Stand up, Sophia.
- She's brilliant.
- Sophia is awesome.
- So you took your calculator and started programming Adele's song Hello, is that correct? Yeah, and had it start singing, which is fabulous. And then moved in--
- That's just the tip of the iceberg. She's going run the world at some point, and she is-- but it's been incredible to see, you know, Sophia has not only taken these skills and, you know, transformed your own future. You know Swift, you did an internship at Apple, got your sister excited about code. She's been in our camp. Sophia is also a teacher and a mentor to other students in our camps, in our community, and I'm so proud of you, and you're the reason why we want to keep growing this.
- It's awesome. And one of the things that Sophia-- Sophia, I saw you said, you wrote, a piece about this. You said, the glass ceiling is not just above my reach, restricting my ability to grow. It's suffocating me, pushing me down into stagnation. But I refuse to allow the glass ceiling built by racial injustice and stereotypes to restrain my strong present capabilities. So let's go. Yeah.
I noticed she's already found Cady Coleman, who's one of my mentors, who's a spatial astronaut and was on the space station for six months. And so you guys keep talking over there.
- Yes, exactly. Katie also is going to be a part of our series as well, that you saw a clip of. So she is a superstar. We're excited to have you part of that.
- Thank you, sweetheart. And one of the key things is to be able to do the thing. Because there's those aha moments, you know, I had it. I'm a mechanical engineer, and I had that Jimmy Carter was putting solar panels on the White House. And our teachers made us do science fair, and I thought, I'm going to do something about energy. And it's that moment, you're reading the books, and you start to invent something, and then as soon as you do that, you're like, oh, I can do this. So it's practice makes permanent. And so doing that.
And then also this cascading. Like you're now mentoring younger people. So their whole program has not only-- you're teaching teachers. Extraordinary program. You've got mentors. You're starting to work with media, and highlight stuff. Technical women, scientific women, are so invisible. Invisible in tech and invisible in women. So we have to really see this group.
- They're there, and they have been. I mean, as your presentation showed before, they've been there for a long time. But it's actually bringing light to them. And I think that's the power of media, and that's something that's so incredible about makers and being here on this stage, and just having the conversation, and creating content to bring light to extraordinary women like who was just on the stage before as well.
- Yet you guys have partnered with folks like [? Flatter ?] and one of the things about [INAUDIBLE] it's a team sport. You're doing this but teaming up with all different groups. Melinda Gates was on the Grace Hopper stage, which is 18,000 women in computer science gathering every fall saying, there's many pathways, and even more pathways. And so the teacher program is really exciting because you're getting teachers, which is one of our greatest areas. We need more teachers to train quickly in months, not years, into this. And you guys are doing that.
- Yeah, I think it's multifaceted, and it's a big problem. Like you said, we all have-- I think there's a lot of ways that we can work together to really make impact. And Sophia is a prime example of just this impact, that this ripple effect. I think teacher training is something that is a really big part of this as well, and that's something that we're focusing on. We're going to train 100 teachers to run our 50 camps this summer. So we're going to train these teachers. By the way, all these camps are free, and we're paying these teachers this summer so that's supplemental income over the summer. But then they'll take this back to their communities and schools, and be able to start computer science programs in their schools that don't already have them.
It's a combination of having incredible teachers, who are already passionate, incredible teachers, and just giving them the skills to learn to code. And then also having a really dynamic, exciting way to learn this. And that's just, you know, that's the curriculum component. And it is creative and exciting. Code and tech, I think people get really scared by it, because they don't understand it, necessarily. And it's like, it's a language, and also it's such a-- I mean, I've grown up in the fashion industry. It's a very creative industry, but you know, I actually think pairing that creative kind of outlook on anything with kind of a technical understanding of using code or technology to really scale whatever you want to accomplish. I mean, it's a literacy that everyone should have, whether or not you want to be an engineer. And I think that that's what CS for all, and even I think access to that learning is key. And that's where it starts.
And that's how you change, you know, the pipeline of talent in the future. You know, you want to have more diversity in your companies, in the tech industry. It starts with having access to the learning for everyone, not just self-selecting boys who think that that's interesting to them. But having access to the learning for everyone will have huge and--
- And broaden. Life if you broaden what you understand it's for then anybody, whatever you're interested in, it's actually for that. And so encouraging people, having ways in, using media, seeing that it's high impact, and so we're going to shift into see somebody extraordinary. I mentioned science fair. There's a young woman here who is really driving impact in her community and in the world, and stepped right up. And let's get Gitanjali Rao, come on out.
- Another super star.
- We're going to come over here. We'll be back with you, OK. Let's hear it.
- All right. How many of us are absolutely sure that the water we are drinking is safe and contaminant free? For those of you who somehow know, you should be considered lucky. I'd like you to meet [? Manaya, ?] [? Obimepo, ?] and Nicholas. They are residents of Flint and are among thousands of adults and children exposed to the harmful effects of lead in drinking water. However, this is not just limited to Flint. Approximately 5,000 water systems in the United States alone have lead and can cause lead poisoning, and other health effects.
This is also a worldwide problem. Health effects of lead in water range from just headaches and nausea to possible seizures and even death. To add on, approximately 17.6 million people had lead in their water and did not know about it for months after. The current solutions in the market are either too cumbersome, take time, or are expensive. They don't look at detection, accuracy, and contamination levels together. The happenings in places like Flint and the impact that this is having on our community inspired me to look for a solution.
Introducing Tethys, the quick and accurate tool to detect lead contamination in water. It's based on the idea of carbon nanotube sensor technology, and MIT material science is working on using nanotubes sensors in order to detect various gases. I decided to expand this idea to apply for liquids as well. To detect lead in water. Let's look at how it works. My device includes three parts. A core device housing a processor, a Bluetooth extension, and a power source. A disposable sensor cartridge that attaches to the core device, and lastly, a smartphone that connects over Bluetooth to display results. Let's look at the science side of this. When I dip my device in the water I want to test, this disposable sensor cartridge includes carbon nanotubes especially treated with chloride ions.
Let's say the water here has lead in it. The lead in the water reacts to the chloride ions within the nanotube forming lead chloride molecules. This increases the amount of resistance to the flow of current as well as decreases the conductivity. I'm measuring the conductivity drop and the resistance change using the programmed processor. To make it easier for the user, I decided to add a Bluetooth extension, which sends all the data to a custom app on your mobile phone, which displays easy values of safe, slightly contaminated, or critical.
I'm currently working on evolving my device even further by redesigning the device structure for ease and compactness, also by refining the carbon nanotube sensor for accuracy. I'm currently partnering with Denver water in order to perform tests that require correct instrumentation such as interference and false positives. I hope to spreads awareness by volunteering for the river watch of Colorado and writing articles as well. I believe that the purpose of science is to make a difference. I want to think of Makers, Discovery Education, and 3M for giving me the opportunity to participate in the competition, learn more about innovation, and also be here to speak with all of you and share my story.
- That was so good.
- Thank you.
- Good job.
- Gitanjali, that was really awesome.
- Thank you.
- So I was just at the Sundance Film Festival, and one of the new films is called Inventing Tomorrow. And it's got kids who are in high school, they're just-- you're in seventh grade right now. But it's starting--
- It's not crazy. Seventh grade.
- But one of the things that, you know, I was lucky because I went to inner city public school. But my seventh grade science teacher required
- Megan give her money. She's done this before. [INAUDIBLE] do it again.
- OK, we'll do more. We'll do that. You know, the kids in-- my science teacher, our science teachers, made us do science fairs as part of the curriculum. And so we just did this for science class. And so thinking of it more like PE, and art, and how you just do, is what you guys can see. You're in a science magnet right now. Can you talk a little bit-- you used an Arduino. I happened to have in an Arduino here. Doesn't everybody have an Arduino? This is just a little board in your cell phone. What are you doing at school that's helping you see that you can just do things like this? You can just fix stuff, and work with your friends, and talk a little bit about that.
- Yeah, so I have a lot of mentors along my way like 3M scientists who helped me out, Dr. Schaefer, and some of the staff at Denver water, such as Dr. Hernandez Ruiz, they really helped me understand more about innovation, the instrumentation, and that girls can have the capability to do STEM related activities, and innovate as well.
- Yeah, Karlie is working a lot on trying to get over those stereotypes, right. And so the kind of media that you're doing.
- Yeah, I wasn't doing this in seventh grade, though. Let's be clear. It's pretty awesome.
- So I think, you know, one of the things I thought when Flint happened is I wish that we had been where you are now, and that all the young people, that maybe the seventh graders, could together have measured all the water in the country. Because we would have taught people how to do that, and then you could have shared your data sets, and started working with adults who who might help, who might be ahead of you, or maybe some seniors in high school, who might be ahead of you. But you can think about the way that we write Wikipedia all together, why aren't we working on this? And the young people in Pine Ridge have a lot of uranium and other challenges on that reservation. And so they've just started to do what you're doing, internet of things and testing, and that. What do you see that could happen if all the kids were connected, and what would you guys do together?
- Yeah, so that would be a dream come true if all girls, and even boys, my age--
- We'll let the boys in a little bit. Just a little.
- --my age, middle schoolers, if we all learned to innovate, come together, solve problems. Something that I think would really make an impact on this really happening today is for everyone to find a mentor out there. And so I urge each and every one of you to take in a student as a mentee and guide them along the path that they are passionate about. I am passionate about innovation, and together we can make a difference, really.
- I agree entirely. I agree. And, you know, it's really awesome to see. Your dad is here with you. My dad was a huge, huge advocate. He was always so excited about NASA, instilled that in me. I get so excited about space things. It's true. The impact you can have on one person can be a game changing for their life.
- And use the network to just ask for other resources, take them places. The other thing is, we face a lot of hard challenges. When I was doing science fair and my friend Mira was doing a project in a place called Love Canal, which was a huge super fund disaster for the country. And on our panel, one of her judges was from Hooker Chemical , and so we had really interesting learning about politics and about how-- having the kids in on our hardest problems with us as part of their schooling, which is what Lorraine's jobs is doing with the XQ School Movement. And so I'm looking forward to learning more about your school. And what we call is not a smart city, but wise community, and you are part of the leaders of the wise community, so thank you very much.
- Thank you.