So a 9th Grader Walks into School with a Homemade Clock

View image on TwitterAnd apparently school officials in Texas overreacted.  Just a little bit.  From the Washington Post:

Ahmed Mohamed just wanted to impress his teachers with a homemade invention. The story of what happened next has made the 14-year-old from Irving, Tex., the object of national outrage and attention.

Eager to show off to his engineering teacher, Mohamed walked into MacArthur High School on Monday morning with his hastily assembled invention: A digital clock.

Hours later, the ninth-grader was escorted out of the school in police custody after teachers mistook the device for a bomb.

Note; he showed it to his engineering teacher who thought it was cool but warned him not to show any other teachers.  But it beeped in English class, he showed it to the teacher who said it looked like a bomb.

They took him out wearing a NASA t-shirt and handcuffs.

Twitter and social media is exploding with this story - #IStandWithAhmed.

President Obama tweeted:
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.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg extended an invitation to Mohamed to meet him at the social media giant’s California headquarters. #IStandWithAhmed trended on Twitter. NASA scientists and MIT researchers offered tours, along with praise for the teen’s ingenuity.

Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said that Mohamed will not be charged with any wrongdoing and that the case has been closed.

“We have no evidence to support that there was an intention to create alarm or cause people to be concerned,” Boyd told reporters Wednesday.


The teen’s family said Mohamed has been suspended from school for three days.

School officials continue to say they needed to act.  

I'm not sure how we'll get more kids interested in STEM if they have to this kind of reaction.



Anonymous said…
I would have a difficult time sending my child back to that school.

skg said…
Sorry, if I had been presented this object by any 14 year old boy on the planet, I would have been scared:

The teacher probably had a pretty normal reaction, and now it is a national story.
seattle citizen said…
It's a national story, skg, because even though no bomb squad was called. A quote I saw said officers didn't call bomb squad because they didnt think it was a bomb. THAT is the ridiculous part of this. Yes, maybe it was wise for the teacher to at least get it checked out, but once in office (with the "bomb"?! how smart is THAT of the admins?) with police called, they determine it's not a bomb...yet still arrest him? Handcuff him? Really?
The context of this, as well, is that the mayor of this town hates Muslims, pure and simple. Look her up. And there have been anti-Muslim problems there....
This whole episode stinks to high heaven.
skg said…
I think he was arrested for a bomb hoax. Again, maybe this was an over the top reaction, but kids shouldn't be bringing devices to school that look like this.
Patrick said…
I see a circuit board and a display panel. I see no explosives or any spot where they might be packed. Nothing scary here.

Is there a local STEM school that could treat building your own clock as fulfilling the admission requirements?
SKG, no the teacher did not have a normal reaction. She didn't listen to his explanation, did not go to the first (engineering) teacher, she just raised an alarm based on her visual (lack of) knowledge. Add on whoever is principal and it went from there.

Please read the story before you comment.
Anonymous said…
Well, I guess the robotics team had better vacate the building, their creations have way more wires & circuit boards than this. RHS robotics team shot off a t-shirt cannons in assemblies a few years back. Cannons! Of course the rocketry teams have way more explosive material in their gear kits, with actual firing mechanisms, stored & worked on in the school buildings. And just think how they could modify that laser cutter in the shop. If adults in the buildings get to jump to conclusions, then all those teens better stay away from STEM clubs if they don't want an arrest record to put on the common app.


This comment has been removed by the author.
skg said shouldn't be bringing devices to school that look like this.

Seriously? This kid was excited about an engineering feat he had pulled off and wanted a teacher to see it. I think the reaction would have been quite different if he had been a blue-eyed blonde.
seattle citizen said…
Why on earth would they arrest him for a bomb hoax after he explained what it is? "Thank you for explaining that that hair dryer you were using in the gym locker room is not a gun, young lady, but you're under arrest for a gun hoax."
Anonymous said…
They are not only prejudice against Muslims in Texas, they are also very suspicious of science. The combination must be too much.

-HS Parent
Just saw an NBC story on this. I couldn't believe it.

1) police chief saying "We live in an age when you can't take stuff like this to school." What about homework? What about STEM? Computer science and engineering? Robotics?

2) Ahmed is transferring schools. Good idea.
Anonymous said…
Yet the white kid who built a nuclear reactor got praise. It is only the brown kids who get arrested.

Skg said…
We live in an age of zero tolerance. Kindergarten students have been suspended for having toy guns. The device looked suspicious, which is one element of the crime of a hoax bomb. Another element is intent, which this kid obviously did not have. However, none of us were in the room when the teacher questioned the kid. None of us were there when other school personnel questioned the kid. The police press release states he was not forthcoming with information when questioned. This is not surprising, as he was 14! He was probably scared beyond belief. And his nervousness could have added to everyone's fears and suspicions.

I know nothing about bombs, so this device looks scary to me. It apparently looked scary to that teacher and to school personnel. In the post Columbine world is that a surprise?

Again, this appears to be a lot of small human mistakes that all add up to a silly national story. A good kid probably did not think through what this would look like to others. People got scared and made mistakes. That is the human condition. On the scale of injustices that occur in the world, this is small.

By the way Melissa, I did read the story.
Anonymous said…
"We live in an age of zero tolerance." That's hooey, I don't believe for an instant that a white kid named Joe Smith gets arrested for this. I believe that a large percentage of people identify this fact pattern as scary when the kid is brown and named Ahmed Mohamed, and would not find it scary if he were white.

What we live in is a state of perpetual fear.


Anonymous said…
HS Parent,

You do realize that there's racism up here too right? See Pasco shooting and the firing of SPD Officer Whitlach. In some Texas school districts there are high schools dedicated to science and math and they are ranked well. I know because I attended one--the High School for Health Professions now known as the Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions whereby juniors and seniors completed rotations in the Texas Medical Center and the lower grades drew blood and tested urine. Of course students earn enough credits to go immediately into college and I believe now, a few are even directly awarded scholarships to Baylor College of Medicine upon graduating.

Don't make assumptions about Texas or the South because in many ways they are outperforming this state.

- Boom
Anonymous said…

That was said tongue in cheek, based on the anti-evolution, anti-climate change, anti-gun death studies, anti-scientist opinions I hear from friends in Texas. It seems there is more suspicion of science among the general population in Texas, though I actually have never seen a study of it. The fact that no one in that school could figure out how that clock worked would seem to bear that out, but if you say it isn't true, I'll try to keep an open mind. Maybe this school's reaction was really an aberration. Perhaps they all build clocks in the next school over.

-HS Parent

mirmac1 said…
I don't like how he was interrogated without his parents present. That is bogus!
skg said…
Fremont Dad-- The Columbine shooters were white. The Sandy Hook shooters were white. If anything, the stereotype of a mass murderer is white male.
skg said…
Mirmac1--Totally agree. That is the big mistake here.
Patrick said…
skg, you know that, and I know that, and the people who read this board know that, but in the minds of much of the U.S. population the terrorist threat is brown Muslims.
Anonymous said…
I believe you HS Parent because I see the same comments every time a wacky story comes out of Texas. Yet the Houston Independent School District recently opened an Arabic Immersion Magnet School. That is forward-thinking for a public school in my opinion.

- Boom
Anonymous said…
Texas is a big state. It has pockets of sanity and other parts have a whole lot of crazy going on.

Anonymous said…
Wow, if they looked in my basement someone might call in an airstrike!

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