In case you missed it (and we don’t know how you missed it), 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested on Monday for bringing, um, a clock to school.
(Which is eerily similar to what happened to Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak back in the day. Foreshadowing, perhaps?)
A little recap: Mohamed is an inventor, a whiz kid who served as an unofficial consultant for his older cousin’s robotics team and whose gadget-and-gizmo-riddled bedroom has been compared to a Radio Shack. He’s a creative, a maker. And the thing he made most recently happened to be a clock, which he reportedly threw together in about 20 minutes using a circuit board and a power supply connected to a digital display.
Impressed? Good, that’s the right reaction.
But for some reason, Mohamed and his invention weren’t met with appreciation or praise from his teachers; instead he encountered only suspicion, fear and ignorance. After he showed it to his English teacher (it had beeped in class), the device was confiscated. He was soon summoned to the principal’s office, where he was faced with five cops who accused the 14-year-old (dressed in a NASA t-shirt) of trying to build a bomb. Then he was taken to police headquarters, handcuffed and fingerprinted.
Now fortunately, this story has a less-than-miserable ending. The Internet rallied around Mohamed (#IStandWithAhmed), charges were dropped, and he received internship offers and personal invites to Facebook and even the White House. But while the support and opportunities that have arisen for Mohamed in the wake of this bizarre occurrence are undeniably exciting, they don’t make up for the trauma he must have experienced being handcuffed and dragged to the police station. They don’t erase the fact that the 14 year old was arrested for experimentation and learning and creation…in an institution designed specifically for experimentation and learning and creation. They don’t negate the fact that a brilliant kid was punished rather than praised, and innovation was stifled rather than supported. Simply put, the education system straight-up failed one of its most promising students.
But while the damage can’t be fully undone, the situation does raise a little awareness and remind us that it’s our job to reward innovation and to support kids like Mohamed. It’s our job to build a culture where curiosity is encouraged and creativity fostered. After all, those are the kids we’re going to be hiring in 10 years.
That being said, a letter—and invitation—to our fellow maker (and inadvertent troublemaker), Ahmed:
Chaotic Moon here. You may remember us from hits like C.U.P.I.D. and Tyrone (our Taser-wielding and spraypaint-shooting drones), Freewheel (a wheelchair fitness tracker), and The Board of Awesomeness. Which, really, is just what it sounds like.
We’re a company composed of inventors and creatives just like you. (Many of whom have spent their fair share of time in the principal’s office, as well.) We’re sorry you had to go through that awful experience this week. Sometimes the man tries to put you down, and sometimes people…well, sometimes they just don’t get it. But it’s minds like yours that are going to change the world.
We like the way you think, Ahmed, and we want to help We saw your NASA t-shirt, and while we can’t get you to the actual moon, we do want to invite you to visit Chaotic Moon. Our Dallas office is right down the road, and we’d love to help you bring your ideas to life.
(And, for the record, we’re thinking something a little bigger than clocks.)
If you’re interested in coming by our office and building something rad, shoot our head of communications an email at chad(at)chaoticmoon(dot)com and we’ll set something up ASAP.
Stay awesome, and seriously–keep creating,
PS: But, uh, maybe next time give your teachers a heads up if you’re gonna bring something to school that ticks.
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