The Clock That Was Never A Bomb #IStandWithAhmed

It’s not everyday that you show up to first period ready to show your peers your creation but end up in the back of a police car by lunch. Nothing prepares you for that. But that did happen to 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed.

Ahmed showed up to school on Monday ready to show his classmates his homemade clock he made inside of a suitcase. A clock that the school assumed was a fake bomb. Now, this story would have ended if Ahmed had actually tried to created an uproar with a fake bomb but when officers proceeded to ask Mohamed what the item was he told them,  it was a clock. Because….it was a clock. It had an LED display, wires and a circuit board. The only thing missing from this fake bomb was the part that made it a bomb which is explosives or something that looks like explosives.

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Clock created by Ahmed Mohamed. Taken from CNN.

From the picture above, I see a clock inside of what I think looks like the glowing suitcase from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. The school administration and police thought it was still a bomb even after they were told that it wasn’t. So they arrested Ahmed.

For a clock.

Because anything with a ticking noise held in the hand by a young Muslim boy is automatically suspicious.

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Sad thing is, this isn’t the first time a young Person of Color has been treated a certain way by a school administration and the police for committing what I am going to call ” Acts of Scientific Expression”.

Remember Kiera Wilmot in 2013. She was the 16-year-old Florida girl who mixed common household chemicals in a tiny 8 oz. water bottle behind her high school that caused a small explosion. She was almost expelled from school and charged with a felony because she wanted to not make her volcano project better than those with the typical baking soda and vinegar. In her own words, she says that she wanted to “slow the reaction time or keep it from reacting”. Let me say this, I am no chemist although I have probably performed enough titration experiments to believe I am one, but I do know one thing. And that one thing, is that the combination between baking soda and vinegar is a fast reaction. It happens almost instantly when the two combine. So if one were to either slow down the reaction or keep chemicals from reacting, I have to assume that they would need more than just baking soda and vinegar. Those two just won’t cut it. Thankfully in the end, charges were later dropped and she was able to continue her plans of graduating and going to college for Engineering.

Ahmed, as well, is also not being charged with anything thing since again…he created a clock.

This.

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And these things.

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The favorite accessory of Flava Flav, front man of Public Enemy.

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And while the situation is annoying, people are coming from all over the STEM community to stand behind Ahmed and his family with the “I Stand with Ahmed” hashtag. President Obama, NASA Engineers, and even Mark Zuckerberg have shown their support. Presidental Candidate Hilary Clinton told Ahmed to “stay curious and keep building” in a tweet. Which such strong STEM allies and believers, I hope that Ahmed never gives up on his dreams.

I feel as if when I started this post, I wanted to hit on the fact that maybe after seeing stories like Kiera and Ahmed, more kids of color would become a bit turned off to be curious when it comes to science or technology. That they will be scared to take risks and understand the world around them in a different way because it could mean that they would be carted away by the police and charged with a crime. People of Color in STEM is already low and seeing this doesn’t really help when it comes to talking about the lack of diversity in STEM. I want more young people of color to succeed in science. Science and Technology should be a place where failures are learned from not punished. I want to hope that kids of color who love science look past these incidents and never lose their spark to tinker or question. It’s disheartening to think otherwise so at this moment, I just won’t.

I will focus on the support given to a young man of color whose dream wants to grow up and be an engineer. For he, along with Kiera, will probably be a part of the team making our future robotic hover chairs from Wall-E and I want to make sure mine comes with all the cool extra gadgets. So keep going Kiera! Keep going Ahmed!

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1. Frantz, A, Almasy, S, and Stapleton, A. (September 16, 2015). “Muslim teen Ahmed Mohamed creates clock, shows teacher, arrested”. Retrieved from CNN.com

2.Thomas, D. (September 16, 2015). “#IStandWithAhmed lesson: Curiosity is for white kids”. Retrieved from Latimes.com

3. Lawrence, D. (June 2014). “Teen Arrested for Explosive Science Project Graduates”. Retrieved from USAtoday.com

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