“It took me 20 minutes,” Ahmed Mohamed said about making the clock that suddenly landed him in juvenile detention.
Ahmed Mohamed is in Grade 9, and as the world now knows, was hauled off to jail amid fears that he had built a bomb and brought it to school. His engineering teacher was suitably impressed but cautioned the young man to not bring the device out for the world to see.
“He was like, ‘That’s really nice,’” Mohamed told the newspaper. “‘I would advise you not to show any other teachers.’”
There is a lot that is deeply unfortunate about the situation Ahmed Mohamed now finds himself in. There is, of course, the notion that Ahmed Mohamed was immediately suspected of building a homemade bomb simply because of his skin color. He reported, according to Global News, that his English teacher believed the clock to be a bomb after hearing it beeping during class. Ahmed Mohamed was then questioned by police, apparently without his parents being present, and subsequently suspended for three days.
There is also the idea that a teen would be cuffed simply for bringing a homemade clock to school. Again, ideas of race are tied in with this, but even Time had to decry the authorities’ decision to arrest Ahmed Mohamed.
“The sheer lunacy of cuffing a kid over a homemade clock” http://t.co/3oD3V1eAFB— TIME.com (@TIME) September 17, 2015
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that Ahmed Mohamed’s teachers had failed the boy.
“This is an instance where you have people who have otherwise dedicated their lives to teach our children who failed in that effort, potentially because of some things in their conscience and the power of stereotypes,” he said.
At this point, Ahmed Mohamed has said he would not return to the Irving, Texas, school he had been attending, and with good reason. What teen wants to be known as the kid who brought a homemade clock that teachers mistook for a “movie bomb”? Ahmed Mohamed remains suspended by the school until today (September 17), but plans to go to a private school.
NBC5 reported via Twitter that the case had been dropped against Ahmed Mohamed.
As with many terrible situations, however, there is usually some good, and Ahmed Mohamed story is no different. CBC reports that Canadian Col. Chris Hadfield, who has 1.4 million Twitter followers, reached out to Ahmed Mohamed and invited him to Toronto for a science-based variety show called Generator, to be held at Massey Hall October 28.
United States president Barack Obama also hailed Ahmed Mohamed as part of a group of young Americans vying to make America great.
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great.— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
Given that the United States is currently ranked 36 out of 65 countries for math, 28th in science and 24th in reading, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment, students like Ahmed Mohamed should definitely be celebrated. Forbes also cites a Pew Research Center report that ranks Estonia and Lichtenstein higher than the US in all those categories, which means that the US has a lot of work to do with regards to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education even though it’s a country that spends more per student on these areas.
Perhaps presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said it best when tweeting about the Ahmed Mohamed situation.
Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building. https://t.co/ywrlHUw3g1— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 16, 2015
It can only be hoped that Ahmed Mohamed will, indeed, continue to let his curiosity drive him to great success.
(Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images)