On Monday, 14-year-old robotics enthusiast Ahmed Mohamed was arrested in Irving, Texas, for bringing a homemade digital clock into his new high school. He was handcuffed and taken into juvenile detention for questioning because teachers and police suspected that the circuit board set-up must be a DIY bomb. "She was like, it looks like a bomb," Ahmed told The Dallas Morning News.
Ahmed has since been released with no charges filed, but over the past 24 hours the Internet has been flooded with support for the teen from all the biggest names in science, technology, and politics - including Barack Obama - who made it clear that they stand with Ahmed, and that young people shouldn't feel scared of being persecuted for doing science.
The story is particularly contentious in light of the police brutality that's occurred in places like Baltimore and Cleveland recently, with many commenters questioning whether Ahmed was only arrested because he's from a Middle Eastern background - especially since he never led anyone to believe the device was anything other than a DIY digital clock.
"I made it to impress my teachers first week of school to… show them I have a passion for engineering," Ahmed told The Dallas Morning News.
You can see the device below:
If this looks like a bomb to you, then please ... don't touch technology. You are a stupid person. #IStandWithAhmed pic.twitter.com/Ur4pSQhovd— A Nash By Any Other Name Would Still Be a Bot (@Nash076) September 16, 2015
Either way, the reality is that a young boy was taken from school in handcuffs, interrogated, and had his belongings searched, simply because he loved robotics and wanted to show his new high school a clock that he'd made himself in just 20 minutes. And that's incredibly wrong.
The good news is that the incident has drawn a whole lot of support, with Ahmed now invited to The White House, Facebook HQ, and a science show with astronaut Chris Hadfield. Hopefully the fiasco inspires a whole lot of kids to learn a little more about engineering and experiment with their own projects, because we need more of Ahmed's ingenuity in the world.
Hi @IStandWithAhmed ! I'd love you to join us for our science show Generator in Toronto on 28 Oct. There's a ticket waiting for you.— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) September 16, 2015
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 (@POTUS44) September 16, 2015
To show our support, we thought we'd follow Wired's lead and encourage all of you to make your own digital clocks at home - not only because it's good clean science fun, but because the world's educators and law enforcement agencies clearly need a lesson on what home-made clocks look like.
If you've got your own kit, this tutorial is incredibly useful:
Or if you want to make something a little more stylish, you can create this awesome wooden box clock, which is definitely going to be our next DIY project.
Stay safe out there kids, and never ever be afraid to do science.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Ahmed has accepted Obama's invitation to come to The White House (wearing a kickass NASA t-shirt). We can't wait for that meeting.