0916ahmedclock-sk

After the news spread today of 9th-grader Ahmed Mohamed’s arrest for inadvertently confusing his teachers with his homebrew clock, we’ve all waited eagerly to see just how much his build looked like a bomb.

Turns out, it doesn’t look much like a bomb at all. Unless of course, you’ve never seen an actual bomb (which, I’d garner, most of us haven’t).

We examined the clock photo after its release and, while we’re pleased with Ahmed’s gumption, we’re also charmed by the innocence of the build.

For starters, the case, mistakenly referred to as a briefcase by some outlets, appears to be a simple child’s pencil box (see the power plug on the right side as the “banana for scale”).

Inside it, the electronics appear less as a combination of miscellaneous parts wired together into a timepiece, and more so as simply the guts of a standard digital alarm clock. Seen are a big seven-segment display, a transformer for stepping down the line voltage, 9-volt connector for power-outage battery backup, plus the control board with buttons to set the clock, and the main board that connects all the pieces together, attached to the display by a wide ribbon cable.

Ahmed should be proud of his build. All 14-year-olds possess curiosity about taking things apart and putting them together; this is integral to learning and growing, which allows us to understand and master technology. It’s an extremely unfortunate situation that none of his teachers were able to understand the build, nor his intention to connect with them and find someone to foster his creative desires.

We hope that through today’s events, Ahmed and all children misunderstood for their embracement of technology are given deeper consideration for their endeavors. There’s a lot of discussion still ongoing — some of it about STEM, some of it about race. All of this is good; today’s a day when a child’s arrest forced many overdue conversations to happen.


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