Maker News
NMC_15MohamedAhmed2
Photo: Dallas News

Ahmed Mohamed, a 9th grader in Irving, Texas, was led from his school in handcuffs earlier this week. His crime? Bringing his DIY clock circuit to school. The first report on this incident was filed in the Dallas Morning News.

Perhaps you’re thinking, hey, maybe it had exposed wires and a display, maybe it could kind of look like a bomb. And that is exactly right. But that single thought — that this project might look like a movie prop from a bad action movie — was enough to have this child arrested. The Irving Police Department released this photo of Ahmed’s clock:

Photo via Ken Kalthoff
Photo via Ken Kalthoff

While many have been quick to jump onto the fact that Ahmed is of Middle Eastern decent, and that racism could be at play, let’s bypass that point for now. Let’s focus on the humanity involved, and the project.

For starters: clocks are not bombs. Circuits are not bombs. The part that makes a bomb a bomb is the explosive. Anyone with a modicum of Maker knowledge could have looked at this and seen that it is just a circuit. But if your education on bombs were to come exclusively from movies, well then, maybe this project did look a little like a prop.

This quote from the police spokesman James McLellan to Dallas News stands out

We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb. He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation. It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?

But he didn’t do any of those things. He didn’t leave it anywhere suspicious. He was literally arrested because it is feasible that someone could have been alarmed if he had done something that he didn’t do. If that sentence hurt your brain, it’s because the logic at play here is dumb.

But what if he was saying things that would make people think it was a bomb?

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Photo: Anil Dash via Twitter

In the news reports from Dallas News, they address this. He proudly showed his first teacher of the day his clock project, looking for feedback. This is important. He brought this device to a teacher in the morning and showed it off. He encouraged the teacher to look at it. The teacher gave him positive feedback but also said, according to Ahmed, “I would advise you not to show any other teachers.” And he did not.

There are no reports that he said anything to lead anyone to think it was a bomb.

Sadly, a teacher later heard the thing beep in his backpack and asked what it was, causing them to “discover” it in his bag.

My wife is a teacher. I have children in school. I would want a teacher who found a suspicious item in a backpack to report it to the office. But what happened next is where this story took a surreal turn.

Given the chance to inspect the item, get corroboration from the other teachers who had seen it, and hear the kid’s story, they opted to have Ahmed handcuffed and led from the school to a detention facility and interrogated. He was then suspended.

Makers make things. We make robots, clocks, toys, drones, and any number of of items. Many of these things have exposed wires and digital displays. We shouldn’t have to worry that an absolutely harmless project is going to get us arrested.

What do you think? Did the school and the police go too far?  

146 thoughts on “9th-Grade Maker Arrested Because His Clock Project Looked Like a Fake Bomb

  1. I think it’s obvious, and should be obvious to anyone, that the school overreacted. The creativity and ingenuity of this child should have been praised and celebrated, not criminalized. STEM needs more minorities, and if he’s facing this kind of reaction at a young age, it would be easy for this to completely discourage him from pursuing anything like this ever again. He said he’ll never bring an invention to school again, so how many missed opportunities will there be for good educators to encourage and mentor him? This whole thing is heartbreaking.

    1. I do not think taxpayers owe him $ because they too have to routinely deal with lacking judgement among decision-makers. The fact that his teacher did not say – THIS WAS A CLASS PROJECT, I KNOW EXACTY HOW IT WORKS AND IT IS NOT A DANGER. That is messed up, how that part just got entirely bypassed for drama.

      1. it wasn’t a class project. the teacher told him not to take it to other classes. the kid admits he knew it looked like a bomb before taking it to school. the kid is not a genius for taking apart a fucking clock and sticking the guts in another box unless the 7 year-old Chinese kid that originally assembled the damn thing is the next stephen fucking hawking. this is a ruse orchestrated by his media-whore, activist father for a quick payday

        1. Right on Carl…and why is it that all the darkest motives are proclaimed when perhaps the police were just following established protocol?

          1. Ambushed by bad guys with guns? Yeah, there’s a protocol for that. Ambushed by SJW’s with an army of lawyers… maybe in today’s environment, they definitely need to look into establishing an appropriate protocol for such situations where it becomes obvious they are being played.

        2. Best response here. And curious that his father would name his business “Twin Towers Trasportation Corporation”. They were fishing for just such a response.
          Taking a clock out of its plastic case is NOT being a “Maker”, or an “inventor”.

          1. He didn’t name it “Twin Towers Transportation Corporation”. The person that started that rumor found a random person with the last name Mohammed who happened to own a company called Twin Towers Transportation Corporation, which by the way is located in the Dallas Twin Towers complex and has nothing to do with 9/11, and then managed to get dumb asses like you to believe that it was the same Mohammed that is this kids dad. People like you really will believe anything.

        3. Carl hit it on the head, squarely. In these times, all the terrorist have been Muslims and all the school shootings have been unassuming dorky looking kids. If the teachers didn’t say something and it was a bomb that went off we would be talking about something else. Now this kids parents hired a couple of ambulance chasers looking for a quick buck.
          Tomorrow the kid will attain the American dream the wrong way and the rest of us will pay with more regulations and public employees more confused.

    2. the kids are not enuf mature about the things they create what these looks like…they make whatever they want

  2. I think the ENGINEERING teacher should have recognized that it wasn’t a bomb and should have informed the rest of the staff about it before this all got out of control. He/She really dropped the ball for this poor kid. However, I would still like to see a picture of the clock before deciding if I think the school/police overreacted or not.

    1. Are you kidding? Engineering in High School! I haven’t seen a high school with an Engineering course, standard Engineering has little to do with Electrical Engineering. Short of someone with a background in electronics, it would be hard to determine what it was and while it is clearly not a bomb it could have been a trigger.

      1. I’m afraid you may be right. I hope to the flying spaghetti monster that in every school there is at least ONE teacher who knows more than your average dumb American, but that’s probably a vain hope. Education has been cut too much in the US. People with hobbies like ours would rather open a maker space and teach what they love without idiots dictating their actions to them. Looking back as an adult, especially being from Texas, there were a lot of STUPID teachers at my little school. The few that were good often got headhunted by bigger schools with bigger payroll budgets. It’s little wonder I’m an underachiever, but sometimes I surprise myself by how far I’ve come just because my father instilled a love of learning in me long before the teachers attempted to bore it out of me.

        1. Yeah, this is probably because of schools stupid zero tolerance rules put in place since Columbine and Newtown.

        2. Maybe the whole scenario was ruse? The outcome was manipulated by the same kind of people who put those stifling teachers in positions of power over creative children.

    2. _”I would still like to see a picture of the clock before deciding if I think the school/police overreacted”_ D’you think maybe we can conclude that they overreacted _without_ seeing a picture? This is nuts.

      I can imagine a situation temporarily arising if one or two people get hysterical about it, but how did an officer of the law conclude that ARRESTING the kid was a proportional reaction?

    3. Are you kidding — that is exactly what the English teacher did, and look what happened! The Engineering teacher handled the incident appropriately — undoubtedly quite aware of what would happen if Ahmed was sent to the Principal (who seems to be responsible for the whole fiasco in the first place).

  3. What a sad commentary on how angry and afraid we are today. If there is anyplace that should be safe, it is a school. If there is anyplace for creativity and independent thought and reasoned expression, it should be a school. If there is anyplace for children to learn trust in authority, it should be (home) and school.
    What Ahmed learned was fear and mistrust. What a shame.
    But we trusted the men who learned to fly planes, but not how to land them….
    We trusted the boys who posted angry words and came to school in black with unchecked backpacks…
    We trusted teachers and coaches who were educated and vetted…
    Freedom is getting very expensive. I would hope that someone would explain this to Ahmed. And I would hope that D’Sousa could talk to him and explain all this. This boy could make an exceptional American if given the right lessons.

    1. Perhaps when authority figures could be trusted it was good to teach children to trust them. The times have changed. The authority figures themselves have proven beyond all doubt that they do not have the morals or mental fortitude to deserve any trust. Ahmed learned the correct lesson. Don’t trust people stupider than you to understand something when it is beyond their realm of understanding. They will fear you and lash out. The difficult part is when they are older than you and hold power over you. Then you must hide your talents until the appropriate moment. It’s a sad state of affairs, but the mainstream US has become very hostile towards intelligence and science.

    2. The only sad commentary is how easily people have been fooled by a kid set up to be an agent provocateur. If President Obama is honest he will tell Ahmed the same thing that he said to our country. “You didn’t build this”
      Unfortunately, this child has most likely been used by his radical extremest father and he has already has accomplished his goal.

    3. 2008, Peterson – 2008, Peterson – Talk about a sad commentary – you make me sad. You have learned the template well, but your mental faculties are 100% asleep. It’s not that heavy critical thinking is called for here, just some independent observation. A spark of intellectual life. This emperor wears no clothes.

      There is a little “hook” here, in that there is an element of truth somewhere in the general area of this stunt – that our schools in general and their “zero tolerance” policies in particular are idiotic is true. (John Daniels below sees nothing but this misplaced fig leaf)

      But a High School age Moslem boy whose father is a known Islamist activist (promoting the Islamophobia myth) bringing a mock bomb to school is nowhere near the same thing in scale or nature as a first grader drawing a gun, bringing a keychain “charm” gun to school, or making a thumb-and-forefinger pistol.

      We say – surveys show – that we are aware of bias in media. This story from the get-go has a “Cecil the Lion” feel to it. We know our media loves Islam and Moslems are a protected class to them. They would rather preach “tolerance” to us than report the truth about the danger we are in, which might – gasp – lead to some discrimination. So, to swallow a story like this whole, without any independent judgment, requires a robotic level of “suspension of disbelief.” And this ain’t poetry, so it’s a tragically misplaced reaction.

      Partly because of people like you, we’re doomed.

      1. Hindsight being 20-20, I am agreeing with you! Your points are very well taken. I assumed (yes, that word) that he was an average kid, but any connection to CAIR is a big red light.
        I want to point out, however, that in my original post, very early in the life of the story, I mentioned the folly of ignoring “Middle Eastern” young men learning to fly without caring how to land, etc. We are a much different world, and no, this kid should not have been allowed to enter the school with the fake bomb.
        We are not doomed because of “people like me”, but “people like” Obama, Jarrett, and the administration that gave us less security, more undocumented invaders, and Obamacare.

  4. this is tragic. what a way to break a spirit; to take away the joy that leads us to do cool things. to completely miss the whole point of STEM. ahmed didn’t even think there would be any problem: he just made something he thought was cool. and that teacher who told him to keep it hidden? fail. if he’d explained it to everyone, demystified it, there would be no suspicion or confusion. of course, i took one look at the story and saw the name Ahmed, and that he’s in Texas, and I — a reluctant cynic — see the conclusion as inevitable. prejudice, bigotry, fear… and all these tropes poured through our ears and eyes poison us to possibility and creativity. poor kid. ignorant teachers. myopic school. let’s look at this and know we have to choose to be different. and please, let him keep creating cool stuff.

    1. Really? You know what Ahmed was thinking do you?
      Tell us, what was his father thinking? You speak of prejudice and bigotry in the same sentence that you reacted to a boy “named Ahmed and that he’s in Texas” What is that all about? Not prejudice?

  5. I think the headline needs to be corrected…I don’t think his clock “Looked” like a fake bomb. It wasn’t a clock taped to road flares, or stuck in a mound of modeling clay.

    I believe, through ignorance and fear it was “Mistaken” for a bomb.

    There is a difference between the two.

    “it’s a little wrong to call a tomato a vegetable it’s very wrong to call it a suspension bridge”

    1. I build kits. I can tell you that he didn’t construct that circuit board, it was wave soldered by a commercial manufacturing device. The patina on the solder indicates that it is many years old and not newly constructed.
      A timing device installed in a small brief case sure could become an IED with the addition of easily hidden components. Any kit builder who made that would have to know that this”Project” with that construction method could easily be confused with a device designed to be destructive. If it was built inside of a pressure cooker would it look any more like a fake bomb?

  6. “While many have been quick to jump onto the fact that Ahmed is of Middle Eastern decent, and that racism could be at play, let’s bypass that point for now. Let’s focus on the humanity involved, and the project.”

    “Focus on the humanity involved,” you say? He’s brown-skinned and his name is Ahmed, so good ol’ Texaa calls him a terrorist and slaps cuffs on him. There is no bypassing it.

    Focus on the peoject? If it had been a white Christian kid he would have been showered with praise for making a clock that looks like a prop from a Syfy Original Movie.

    The only reason you could even think of saying this is because you yourself are a white dude. Check your damn privilege.

    1. We do not dispute the fact that racism could have been a factor here. The Dallas Morning News story has a segment that makes that very clear, in fact. But we wanted to focus this story more on the reaction to the project itself and the effect this story will have on makers everywhere, of all races.

    2. in austin independent school district (texas) we have a STEM magnet program. my 14-year-old attends it. one project the children are required to do is build a working clock. ahmed would be welcome in the program and his enthusiasm for STEM encouraged.
      i am sorry that adults ignorant of the work of makers and of the technology ahmed used have anything to do with the boy’s education.

    3. Why would they go into any more detail about mere speculation? Mentioning that it may have been a factor is enough. People who write articles should focus on the facts and leave speculation and assumptions to internet commenters. Whether its true or not, correlation is not causation, and reporters can’t just go on and accuse people of racism because it might have been


  7. and to think that in my 9th grade metal shop class, we made KNIVES as a sanctioned project.

    it’s time to get the pansies out of our school administrations.

  8. I hope all the people crying on here were just as upset when the kid in Maryland was suspended for having a POP-TART shaped like a gun. This has NOTHING to do with racism. If ANY kid had something that looked like a bomb, this would have happened. Note he has pics of him handcuffed – but where are the pics of the “clock”.

    1. There’s a picture of the clock in the article. Perhaps it was added after you read the whole article and wrote your comment.

      I hadn’t heard of the kid who was suspended for having a pop tart in the shape of a gun. That is more absurd than this, you’re right. This is also absurd and the reason people are talking about it here is that this just came to people’s attention and it affects a fellow maker, which is what this site is devoted to, people who make things.

      I’ll bet if you go over to Kellogg.com’s Pop-Tart comment section where people swap hot recipes for steaming pockets of breaded fruit puree you’ll find the people you’re looking for who are upset about Pop-Tart kid. They’re probably calling the administrators of that school buffoons for not being able to recognize that chocolatey and marshmallowy filling in a graham-flavored pocket of baked dough is not a threat except to its consumer’s arteries.

      I do hope you come on back sometime to let us know what else we should care about besides what we’re talking about. This has been helpful.

  9. It is too bad that schools are so quick to resort to hysteria and criminal charges over everything. I think this was exacerbated by race, but certainly not confined to those of any particular race. An Ohio kindergartner suspended from school for making a gun WITH HIS FINGERS, in Arkansas a kid was suspended for pointing a chicken finger at another kid in the lunch room, a Colorado fifth-grader who, finding that her mother had packed a plastic knife in her lunch box, turned the knife in to her teacher. The child was told that she’d done the right thing — then was expelled. Another kids in Texas was arrested for having a butter knife on the floor of his car- he had brought stuff to Goodwill for his grandmother! It would be so nice if schools were not so determined to criminalize childhood and curiosity.

    1. He is not accustomed to this behavior, as a son of professionals and a school achiever. However, most all the vocational program students in my high school got routine second looks and prodding questions. If some teachers know of any issues at home, AND a student is in some remedial classes, they often treat the child as a problem. Especially boys in remedial classes, this would no doubt be deemed a plausible intervention to a white communication-resistant student that brought in something unexpected, and irresponsibly unexplained by involved peer staff (duh teacher!) If staff think they may get away with it with the daughter, parents divorced, maybe dad stopped contributing or mom drinks – it’s more often assault attempt. White students at predominantly white schools routinely get down casted by school systems, whenever possible portrayed as Public Enemies. Look at all the actual statistics. Not a pop tart op. That teacher should be a bit in trouble that he/she did not better involve leadership or rise to the response.

    2. in michigan , i had a nephew( 8) sent to the office because he brought in a Empty brass shell casing ( an expended 22) , to show… they have 0 tolerance for any gun related items. he was sent home, his parents called..

    3. Please prove your assertions regarding kids being thrown out of school for trivial actions such as the ones you mentioned. These stories are urban myths promoted by the far right to vilify public schools, Nothing more. Show me proof and I will happily recant.

  10. They were *promoting* a make space at their library. The librarian’s version of a maker space was pairing paper plates. The school was too stupid to know that makers tinker with circuit boards, etc. Someone needs to report on this aspect of the story. Go to the school Facebook page and see for yourself.

  11. Not to be a word stickler here, but there’s a difference between being led away in handcuffs and being arrested. Was he actually arrested (IE, told the law he was violating, read miranda rights, etc) or detained? No one benefits by misrepresenting the situation.

    That aside, poor kid. He should be due some major apologies soon.

    1. So, are you telling us there is a difference between “arrested” and “detained”, and the latter denotes the concept of handcuffing somebody, taking him into custody and interrogating *without* reading him his rights or telling him the charges against him?

      If so, that loud whirring sound I hear must be the Founding Fathers turning in their graves at 10000 RPM. Do you guys over there even remember the concept of civil liberties, or is the old battered slogan about “the land of the free” all you’re left with?

      1. Actually, what I said was there is no benefit to misrepresenting the situation. I stand by that. If he was arrested, say arrested, if he was not, dont use that term.

        I’m not sure why you chose to pick a fight in order to defend media outlets not reporting accurate facts. I’m completely baffled by your logic that this makes me an enemy of civil liberties.

        1. I am not making you an enemy of civil liberties or anything like that, and I am sorry if you read my rant as a personal attack.

          My point is that you are picking on a technicality – using this or that word, which might make a world of difference to a lawyer, but the very fact that such a distinction exists at all reflects very poorly on the state of US law.

          If it quacks like a duck… etc. If police grabs, handcuffs and interrogates someone on a mere suspicion, and can do away with certain procedures because of said legal distinction, I don’t care how this is called by lawyers. I call it a violation of civil rights.

        2. To answer your question, yes, he was arrested and not “merely” detained. Finger prints, interrogation, and, I did not read that he was read his Miranda rights, but assume he was while repeatedly trying to dumbfoundedly explain that he had built a clock and really didn’t need a lawyer.

  12. Talk about an over-reaction… ALL the teachers in that school should be required to take a beginners maker/intro to tech course. On their own time and dime.

  13. I have to disagree, as much as it pains me to. There was no way for them to know what it was, without an EE handy, and even then it still could have been a trigger. It is a damn shame we don’t have EE or CP classes in HS so this shit wouldn’t happen.

    1. They could…I don’t know…talk to the kid. Maybe they could know something about there students. “Oh yeah, Ahmed, he’s really into electronics and an amazing student. That doesn’t look like a bomb anyway.”

      Or they could call the police, realize it’s not a bomb, make it into a learning opportunity for Ahmed and a few teachers. All have a laugh about it and move on.

      Instead, a kid gets scared, discouraged, and suspended. A bunch of school administrators and police look dumb. It didn’t have to happen if someone acted like a reasonable adult and was willing to admit it was a misunderstanding and maybe the school was slightly off the mark.

      1. Oh, they don’t just LOOK dumb, they ARE dumb. CYA all around by blaming a 14 year old, because you couldn’t admit you f’ed up and overreacted.

  14. “While many have been quick to jump onto the fact that Ahmed is of Middle Eastern decent, and that racism could be at play, let’s bypass that point for now. Let’s focus on the humanity involved, and the project.”

    Why are you bypassing this? Do you really think he would have been arrested for having a bomb if he were not Middle Eastern? Check out this quote from the Dallas Morning News online:

    They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

    Do you honestly believe this would have gone the route it did if he had not been Middle Eastern?

    1. First hearing of it, I thought he was a white teenaged male. Not a mention of his origins, maybe due to middle class professional background? False alarms teach people, too. How swiftly, I’m not about to count the minutes. The agenda was clearly that this boy felt stifled to even talk about it, by his teacher to begin with. What is so secretive about their circuit board projects??

    2. Too bad the only person saying they heard that is the person who will benefit the most from everyone believing it.

      1. No, he isn’t the only one who heard it. There was the young man in question, the four officers and the “they” who led him into the room where the officers were waiting. But don’t hold your breath waiting for them to admit to the comment.
        Your comment assumes that Ahmed would lie. Why is that?

    3. In the same way the police assumed it was a hoax bomb, people assume the actions of the police to be racially motivated. We should stick to the things we can prove

  15. This is what happens when we argue over whether or not to teach science in school.

    What’s next? Squatting in a ditch poking berries up your noses and calling it home ec?

  16. sorry. the kid should learn this hard lesson. he should have consulted with his parents whether to bring it to school. then the parents could have contacted the school to see if it is allowed as a show-n-tell item. you don’t just hide in your backpack and fess up at the last minute. it is true we are all makers but our freedom is limited after 09/11/2001. you don’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater and you don’t bring “beep beep” thing in your backpack and not telling the school.

    1. It would be better if bringing electronics projects or whatever other reasonable project to school is such a normal thing that it’s not an issue. Nothing encourages creativity and problem solving more than a bunch of red tape. It’s really thinking like this that contributes to turning schools into child warehousing instead of educational institutions.

      Even if one were to accept the kid should have had permission, maybe a conversation and a small warning is sufficient. It’s a better outcome for the kids, the school, and the taxpayers.

    2. Ummm… No. he had a an electronics project in his bag whose sole function was to monitor the passage of time.
      The level of stupidity of those who saw the device should not be cause for criminal treatment.

    3. >he should have consulted with his parents whether to bring it to school.
      you can’t be serious. ahmed was proud of something he had built, a clock, and he wanted to show it off to his teachers. the problem doesn’t lie with the child or his actions, it lies with the adults.
      and ahmed, in my opinion, should be in a STEM program, like my 14-yr-old is, where adults nourish and encourage this kind of behavior and achievement, not in the school where he now, where it gets a child arrested.

    4. He’s a smart kid, so I can understand why you would follow that line of thinking. The part you’re forgetting is that HE IS A KID! Kids don’t always think through their actions, especially when they’re excited and looking for praise in all the wrong places (sadly school isn’t the place to be praised anymore). I did plenty of things as a kid that I now realize could have been better handled. 9/11 isn’t an excuse, it’s a hurdle we must overcome. We need to assert our rights and vote for the right people. Bernie Sanders 2016!

  17. The only person who seemed to show any wisdom during this debacle was the first teacher. Sadly he/she will probably get in trouble for not alerting the school’s principal, who seems to be the one responsible for the whole mess.

    1. If I were that teacher, I would have stood by Ahmed and required that they take me to jail too. Of course I’m a maker and I understand the situation as far as homemade devices go. I most certainly would not have let Ahmed go without a fight. My coworkers and administrators would never hear the end of it. I’d like to know more about that meeting that took place before the cops showed up. How could anyone have shrugged their shoulders and said, “Fine, call the cops. It’s for the best.”

  18. Call me an extremist, but even if it was a bomb we shouldn’t arrest 9th graders that can do that, we should give them jobs in the military.

  19. I think the teacher should be slapped in the face, publicly. Not necessarily in physical form, as we live in a society that is adverse to such punishments, but at least in the form of a lawsuit.

  20. Make magazine. ..please give this kid a years subscription and a free vacation to your headquarters and a vacation to maker faire in san Mateo. … and put it in his local paper… make this kid a rock star in his own town.. because that is what we do.

    1. When I was a 1st grader in the early 1970s, i snuck into the attic , took a duffel bag and filled it with my dad’s old WWII souvenirs. Eagle Daggers, swords, swastika arm bands, Hitler stuff and brought it to school for show and tell. I thought…”I’m gonna have the best show and tell ever. ” the look on the teachers face when i opened the bag and started talking about my dad….i couldn’t figure out why they sent me to the principal and Called Mom.
      No cops back then…

    2. Also give him a 4 year college scholarship to the college of his choice. Ignore all the other kids who have had similar experiences because they are not the right race.
      Make magazine. .you’ve been scammed!

    3. Give? Give a subscription? if he truly is a kit builder, why doesn’t he currently have a subscription? If he truly is a kit builder, why is the circuit board and button board perfect, with perfectly spaced holes and machine precision cut and soldered components, the ribbon cable is stripped and cut to a precise length but the project such a disorganized mess? What kit builder brings an incomplete mess like that into a public building to show what he “built”
      This kid is no rock star he behaved like an agent provocateur and already has accomplished his goal.

  21. Ahmed is due an apology from the school official and from the officer who arrested him AFTER it was determined that the device was exactly what he said it was (and then chose to arrest him for having a “hoax device”). There is absolutely no justification for his arrest or for his suspension.

    I hope he gets a lawyer and sues the police and the school, wins big and gets a free ride to the engineering school of his choice.

  22. You know the world we live in a guy made a bomb out of a diaper then wore it on a airplane. So, what would make a device credible as a bomb ? Hard telling … If the authorities didn’t do something , they look stupid . if they did something they are oppressive . They are in a no win.

      1. just sayin’ they lose either way. there are schools that go into lock down if they spot what they think is a bow and arrow in the back window of a car dropping off students. ( also after 9/11 they (FAA) decided to have flight schools report people that weren’t into learning about landing air craft , only taking off )

  23. Lets be honest after seeing the picture it sure looks like a bomb, When I read pencil case I wasn’t thinking the image shown..

      1. I’m looking at the image above by Kevin? I can see how with all those wires and a metal case it could be a bomb.

        1. But you see, this is a website for people who actually KNOW what this stuff is. We understand there is no way this is a bomb. It’s like you’re talking to a doctor who says, “It’s acne, it’s not cancer.” Then you say, “But look at all the bumps, it could be cancer!” You wouldn’t convince the doctor and you’re not convincing us.

          1. Responding to this and various other statements you’ve made—

            Can we at least agree that to someone who has no technical background, this could legitimately be identified as a threat? Further, can we agree that not everyone in the world is technically inclined, and that is perfectly OK.

            Guess I’m getting a little sick of reading several comments on here that just exude an aura of self satisfied smugness. You see it with the members of every and any niche, they enjoy patting themselves on the back, separating themselves from all the “plebeians” if you will. It’s utter BS.

            Let’s build on your doctor/medical analogy. Say someone goes to the ER for some acute symptom they see as life threatening. Turns out it’s not. Should the doctor deride them for not being able to accurately assess the urgency of their medical condition? Of course not.

            As to the kid’s motives? All anyone can do is speculate. And I for one refuse to contribute to the massive confirmation bias circle jerk that BOTH “sides” are engaging in.

      2. yes, it’s clearly a Mock Suitcase Time Bomb. its a commonly know design base off Airsoft Mock Suitcase Time Bomb project

  24. School teachers of the 70s and 80s were also a bit technophobic and probably at least as xenophobic. What has changed is that teachers are afraid of heavy-handed administration and government laws. They are terrified of the kids and of their parents. Some of this is almost certainly due to the rise of gun idolatry cults in America.

    FWIW this is a digital watch kit from the early 1970s: http://rk.nvg.ntnu.no/sinclair/other/gallery/blackwatch_usad.jpg

    And this is Popular Science’s DIY plans for a 1000 volt ruby laser, only four years after lasers were invented:
    http://blog.modernmechanix.com/build-your-own-laser/1/#mmGal

    Science books and chemistry sets before this were even less safe.

  25. Im no circuit expert, or bomb expert, I’ve seen the clock. Any decent “engineering” teacher should be able to recognize that a diy clock is just that.

  26. Sorry, your headline should read: Teenager arrested because Teacher can’t tell the difference between electronics and explosives.

    Srsly, it does not look like a bomb. It doesn’t even look like a movie bomb. There are electronics, yeah? So, open any box with a cord. You see any explosives? Anything to go bang?

    Oh, i get it, he had discovered a fusion matter generating bomb where only a tiny bit will annihilate us all.

    I’m a maker, and i’m so proud to be with this kid all the way, please don’t feed the fear machine. Part of our job as makers is to teach people not to fear stuff we make.

    Thank you for inviting him. I went to the first makers faire. Aoxomoxoa

    1. Oh you know what a bomb looks like? You know what a fake movie bomb looks like too and you know the difference? Tell us all, when did you graduate from Quantico?

  27. Wow… Poor kid. I can sort-of relate to this dude. I had a similar incident during my sophomore year of high school but I wasn’t handcuffed and detained… It was shortly after 9/11 (there were lots of bomb threats/paranoia) and I got pulled aside and questioned about a circuit I built on a breadboard. People got freaked out when they saw seven-segment displays, wires, ICs and other components.

  28. Can we start a new game called “Other Things Ahmed Did Not Leave In A Bathroom or Under A Car, But Would Be Suspicious If He Did, But He Didn’t”? I’ll go first: a hamster, 2 PB&J sandwiches, George Washington’s wooden teeth, a horse, a stack of seven pennies…

  29. Put him in jail make an example out of him . I think all of our kids should be bringing Clock to school seems like a normal thing to do… does this surprise me he’s running to the White House ..I’m sure our forefathers would be proud of us now.. we have such a strong backbone.

  30. At first I thought they overreacted but on closer inspection of all the facts, I’m not so sure. although a circuit us not a bomb, there is a law against mock bombs. His project was clearly a mock suitcase time bomb. In school and airport these mock bomb jokes are illegal. if you are a Maker, you know what he did. He reassembled a store bought clock to look like Airsoft Mock Suitcase Time Bomb project. It was hardly a DIY project even for a 9th grader. There was no breadboard, arduino or even an EV3. just a clock he took apart and move it to a suitcase looking pencil box to mock a Time bomb. I don’t he should go to jail but he is no maker martyr either. it’s still got the 110v hanging on the side.

    Hey ,even Steve Wozniak was arrested in high school for his project looking like a bomb, but at least he did his own solder.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8kWnOCy90o

  31. While this situation may seem harsh at first to a 13 year old. Step back and think about it. What was the intention of his project? How many more steps were left to actually complete a real bomb? Yes, he is of middle Eastern decent. However, IQTech 52 your easily swayed to racism because we raise flag of caution and concern for things that don’t seem right in this country. 9/11 should be an example of not seeing the warning signs. If you were his parents and he shared what his project was going to be with them…(I don’t know if that happened) but if it did, It is a sign of pure stupidity on their part to allow him to take a project like that into school. He is of Middle Eastern decent, carrying a briefcase loaded with circuit board with wires attached to a clock…..hmmmm….are there real bombs that are made like this? I feel everyone is avoiding the Elephant in the room on this one. Now, this kid gets invited to the White House. Isn’t that cute. Did Kate’s parents get invited to the White House after she was killed or even called, about the wives of the recent slain Police Officers in this Country, have they been invited to the White House? If your going to point the finger of racism you need to point it at the leader in the White House.

    1. First of all, what proof did they even have that this clock was supposedly a bomb, other than it being a clock? And how come no one bothered to call the bomb squad and find out that it was actually a clock BEFORE they put the child through all that mess, and scared the hell out of him in the process? I mean, let’s be rea—if he was a white boy, nobody would have assumed that a clock you could get at Target was any kind of a weapon. Sound like they just overreacted because the child is Muslim and a child of color

      1. Michelle, I agree if someone walks into school with a clock…just a clock, that’s fine.. What would be the issue? Whether it is a white boy or a boy of color it really shouldn’t matter. Should it?
        However, in the day and age we live in, we better air on the side of caution instead of regret. When someone walks into a school with a briefcase, wired up inside with circuits, plugs and with a clock attached that isn’t a clock. That is a look-a-like bomb. The authorities have the right to take due course and process to protect the public.His parents should be questioned also. And because he is a Muslim, who cares, the days of pulling out the race card to stall or quell a situation is over. From this point on, it is the facts that count.

  32. Made a clock and put it in a case that looks exactly like a bomb component. His father is a Islamophobe activist. Yesterday the White House was on high alert when a “suspicious coffee cup” was found. If no one else thinks this kid is a jihadist in training we have a problem.

  33. I think it should be obvious to all that this was a set up scam by the kid and his family. Check out his twitter account. He posted a picture of himself and his family giving the V for victory sign saying ” Off to see my lawyer” with big grins on their faces. And how come the kid who got suspenfed for making an L out of Legos didn’t get all this attention ? How come the thousands of kids who got suspended across this country for innocent misunderstandings by pansies administrations weren’t invited to the WH to meet the POTUS? Is this kid being treated different because of his race? I think so. How many other kids have funds set up for them. I believe this story is a scam and I urge you all to delve into it futher, especially before you start throwing your money and opinions around.

  34. I think it should be obvious to all that this was a set up scam by the kid and his family. Check out his twitter account. He posted a picture of himself and his family giving the V for victory sign saying ” Off to see my lawyer” with big grins on their faces. And how come the kid who got suspenfed for making an L out of Legos didn’t get all this attention ? How come the thousands of kids who got suspended across this country for innocent misunderstandings by pansies administrations weren’t invited to the WH to meet the POTUS? Is this kid being treated different because of his race? I think so. How many other kids have funds set up for them. I believe this story is a scam and I urge you all to delve into it futher, especially before you start throwing your money and opinions around.

  35. What do you think would have happened if he took his “clock ” to the airport no matter what his desent is?
    *

  36. The clock’s circuit board was obviously wave soldered. The solder has an aged patina. The ribbon cable was cut and stripped with machine precision. The transformer and button board wires were cut to a length that makes no sense for the enclosure. The only “Make” is a fake project manufactured to push an agenda.

  37. I would sure like to know for myself what the component side of that circuit board looks like. In an instant we could all determine what components were used, the date of manufacture of the chips right down to the week they came off of the assembly line. we would know if the board was silk screened or not, if the time base crystal is an older HC-49U package or one of the current AB26 types. We would all be able to determine if the components are available, obsolete or if they were specifically made for a manufacturer and not for sale to the public. Looking at the solder side of the board, only increases the doubt that a human cut and soldered the component leads.

  38. Amazing. Dumbfounding. Deeply depressing.

    Nobody here is aware this was a total setup to promote the “islamophobia” myth? And an incredibly lame one at that. Who shall we blame when the next one of these “clocks” blows up a school?

    Caleb Craft, and you who’ve written the comments I’m seeing, you’re damn fools. I’d have said “with all due respect,” but is such dangerous foolishness due any respect?

    1) The kid didn’t “make” anything. He took apart a 30 year old Radio Shack (Micronta) alarm clock. I’m no electronics hobbyist but I’ve taken things apart, and it’s obviously something taken apart. See: http://blogs.artvoice.com/techvoice/2015/09/17/reverse-engineering-ahmed-mohameds-clock-and-ourselves/

    2) The thing quite obviously does look more like a bomb than any clock, and he made it that way on purpose, and you guys look at it and claim to see clock? Why is the thing in a box? Where is the face or display? What time is it?

    Try getting that thing through TSA. Good luck with that.

    3) The kid’s dad is an Islamic activist with priors. Take a look: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/09/17/ahmed-mohamed-and-the-islamophobia-clock/

    I guess nobody “gets” the NASA shirt, either. Really cute. Our dear leader tasked our space agency with Muslim outreach, remember? And he tweets the kid:

    “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.”

    Cool? Really? What’s he looking at? One could almost think O was in on this stunt all along.

    And everybody from Microsoft to Google to the whole social network universe is supporting this kid. At least the fools on this site have lots of company: http://www.geekwire.com/2015/heres-what-microsoft-gave-the-teenager-who-was-arrested-for-bringing-a-homemade-clock-to-school/

    We’re doomed.

  39. This “build” could be accomplished in 5 minutes with a hammer. Smash the plastic case from an old digital alarm clock, rip out the components, stuff it all into a 8.5″ Vaultz pencil case. Voila – cool clock, Ahmed!

    It seems that here, of all places, people might be more skeptical. The thing pictured in the article is more something that Ralph Wiggum would come up with than something from a “smart, geeky” 14-year-old from an affluent family like Ahmed’s.

    I contend the intended function of this device is a culture jammer, and a powerful one at that. Given the totality of the circumstances – the appearance of the device, Ahmed’s reported demeanor and behavior at school that day and during interrogation, his family’s history, Ahmed’s and his father’s statements to the press and public, and the immediate reaction of anti-Islamophobia activists (CAIR etc.) – the most coherent hypothesis is that the whole incident was contrived by Ahmed’s father as islamophobia baiting.

    And yes IQTech52, if a “not Middle Eastern” (code: non-Muslim) had done the same thing, it might have gone a lot worse. This May, 2 girls in NC put an alarm clock in an empty locker and rather than a White House invite, are facing felony charges. http://www.wcnc.com/story/news/local/2015/05/26/s-iredell-high-school-evacuated/27955409/

  40. The one thing that most people have not picked up on: THEY DIDN’T REALLY THINK THE KID HAD A BOMB. Aside, perhaps, from the teacher who first raised the alarm, none of the other teachers, administrators or the police ever thought for one minute that it was a bomb. They never evacuated the school, never called the bomb squad. Seems like that would have been the first thing done if they really were worried about the safety of the children in the school. This short article makes the point very well:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/09/17/1422329/–They-didn-t-think-he-had-a-bomb?detail=emailclassic

  41. @PrettyPenny
    You’re underestimating most people’s observation, excepting the dailykos author you cite. Virtually everyone I’ve talked to acknowledges the school and police knew the kid didn’t have a bomb. This isn’t controversial. Your points regarding a potential bomb squad etc., strengthens the hypothesis that Ahmed knowingly constructed a device that might look like a bomb, even a fake bomb. Ahmed himself admitted that he contemplated the possibility that his device might arouse suspicion at school, if you listen to his statements carefully.

    The question remains as to why Ahmed brought this thing to school, knowing it would arouse suspicion. Maybe it was a sincere project that he was truly proud of, though I doubt that. Maybe it was a prank, he should be prosecuted if this can be proven.

    The reason he was so harshly treated by the police was not because he was a Muslim. It was because he was a Muslim acting like a little jerk while being questioned about a suspicious (not dangerous) device. I’d say they showed him great deference, more than he deserved, because he was a Muslim.

  42. 1. He didn’t build a clock, he took a commercial clock out of it case, and stuck it in another case.
    2. He admitted he did it knowing it would look suspicious.
    3. His father is a muslim activist, and this was done on purpose to desensitise America to “If it looks suspicious, report it”.

    You have been had!

  43. I think it’s awesome when any young person gets into engineering / coding / make’ing, whatever. That being said, I initially sided with all the supporters, later to learn the clock was merely a commercial product disassembled, and his responses on Twitter and elsewhere have been very “crafted”. The argument that it was intended to be a deception with the point of gaining exposure and spotlight, is hard to ignore.

    I built electronic clocks and devices in high-school. It’s very well in the scope of high-school electronics to build a clock from scratch with basic 74xx series IC’s, available parts, etc, let alone with a modern embedded controller platform, Arduino, etc. The fact that this device was simply a broken down commercially produced clock just really clouds things in my view.

  44. 1. This is no big project showing engineering brilliance. From other analyses of the picture, this appears to be an old digital alarm clock (likely Micronta) that’s been taken apart and repackaged SO THAT IT NO LONGER LOOKED LIKE A CLOCK.
    2. Nothing to look like a bomb? Can you explain what the irregularly shaped white package in the mash bag is? That’s the only part that wouldn’t be in a commercial clock, so that’s the only thing he intentionally added (other than the briefcase housing). I believe C4 is white, and moldable.
    3. If it WAS a real bomb, would you expect him to tell the teacher it was a bomb, or an harmless clock?
    4. When everyone gets as up in arms at white kids getting suspended for chewing a Pop-Tart into a shape vaguely similar to a gun, or wearing a Marines T-shirt that has a gun on it, or extending the thumb and forefinger from a closed hand, or just having a name whose sign-language form looks like a Hunter (his name), then I’ll take your outrage over a prop bomb seriously.
    5. Given that his father has a history of pro-Muslim activism, and Ahmed proudly tweeted out a picture of the smiling family captioned “Going to meet my lawyer”, I smell a set-up. You all are being used for publicity, you know that, right?

  45. I can’t really see where the kid did anything wrong.. So he took a clock and remounted it in another case. I did that when I was about his age with an am/fm radio, a cb radio, and a turntable. All he did was rebox a clock. Folks… bombs don’t need a clock and a clock isn’t a bomb.

  46. I agree that the investigation and arrest etc. seem overboard but to those who condemn the officials, carry his clock through an airport and see what happens.

  47. Only a complete f-ing idiot would think this is about race or religion. But hey you fell for the youtube video in 2012, just before the election… so why not?

    They think you’re stupid enough to fall for it, because you are.

  48. I’m disgusted with Make and their a liberal slant to this story. To suggest the teachers and or the police were DUMB for not being able to identify it was not a bomb? Bomb identification is not part of their job. Most police are not experts either. I don’t want a self proclaimed “Know it all” to decide the safety of hundreds of children.
    Any parent, especially of middle-eastern origins, should know that something of that nature should be well advertised before entering the school. Bad Parenting.
    The kid is not a hero or a victim. He just got schooled. See attached photo of how make advertised the “Defusable Alarm Clock” before this incident.
    Can you say Hypocrite.

  49. Playing with words, are you? Call it for what it is: a muslim with an agenda. Information surfacing now is casting real doubt on this kid as an “innocent.” Did he make the clock or just repackage it? This thing is looking more and more like a Trojan Horse and duped Americans are buying into it — like you. MAKE: is a fabulous publication for technology. Need to stick to that and back-off from leftist social commentary.

  50. I thought We would learnin this article more about the technical aspects of his actual clock project that makes it special enough for him to bring it to school. Is it based on a 555 chip? Did he use an arduino ? A raspberry pi? What makes it so special and unique? Does it sync to WWV? Quartz? Rubidium? I would love to see him explain it on Jimmy Fallon show, just the technical details. He deserves his moment to shine!

  51. Ahmed didn’t “make” anything. He took the guts out of a large display table clock and screwed them into a metal pencil box. Then he tied it shut with some cord so “it wouldn’t look more suspicious”. He did not modify any of the “clock” parts of the clock to make it do something different.
    The only thing he “created” was a potential shock and/or ignition hazard from the now unshielded transformer.
    The “design concept” was brilliant. A clock you carry around by a handle. When you want to know what time it is, you untie the cord (to reduce suspicion) and then unlatch and open the case.
    This is to spit in the eye of the thousands of kids, his age, younger and older who actually make things to solve some identified need or to learn/demonstrate some principle; even if all they do is re-combine pre-made “modules”
    What young Ahmed and many of his contemporaries suffer from is “Achievement Inflation” and the tendency to take credit for the work of others. “Look what I made!”
    The hyperventilation of the PC “Islamophobia” gang is predictable taqiyya. Da’st not say anything about a suspicious unsolicited “science project” going beep in some kid’s backpack. You might be tarred as a racist.

  52. I’m disgusted with Make and their a liberal slant to this story. To suggest the teachers and or the police were DUMB for not being able to identify it was not a bomb? Bomb identification is not part of their job. Most police are not experts either. I don’t want a self proclaimed “Know it all” to decide the safety of hundreds of children.
    Any parent, especially of middle-eastern origins, should know that something of that nature should be well advertised before entering the school. Bad Parenting.
    The kid is not a hero or a victim. He just got schooled. See attached photo of how make advertised the “Defusable Alarm Clock” before this incident.
    Can you say Hypocrite.

  53. Sigh – I have been thinking about this a lot. the first question is – what did he do, exactly? Did he disassemble a clock and put it in a new case? If so, then he really is exaggerating his claims. Did he interface a old board to another LED display? OK, that is hacking, different situation that requires a modicum of technical expertise. Did he intentionally want to make something that looked like a bomb? Frankly, I am not buying that argument. Have wires running around like that is not all that weird – I did a college project that used a lot of point-to-point wire wrap and the back side looked like spaghetti. If you look at something like the emergency lighting unit I have near my desk, it has a big capacitor, wires and a circuit board and battery – if you did not know what it was, is that considered to be a fake bomb? As to teh case – he needed to mount it to something, and looking at the construction of teh case, it appears that it has some nice screw attachment points. As the article said – the kid did not threaten anyone, did not make any claims to the otherwise – and hauling him away in cuffs, in a world where everyone has a still and movie camera in their pocket, is inviting trouble. I don’t think he deserves all the accolades and rewards – and maybe he should of been given a detention for doing something dumb – but handcuffs and a police car ride – way, way overreacting and discouraging to anyone dreams of building stuff – because who wants to keep their creations hidden away?

  54. You do realize that this kid took apart a clock, dumped the wires in a metal briefcase — making it look as close to an IED as possible, brought it to school and let the alarm go off. There was no science fair or engineering club, this was just a prank that went bad. Or well for Ahmed (whose father is a millionaire). Oh yeah, he goes to a school that is 90% minorities, so its not about discrimination, besides haven’t you heard of all the white kids who get arrested for bringing a butter knife to school, or for just being accused of looking like a school shooter?

  55. He didn’t make the clock. He disasembled a manufactured clock and put the parts in a case. This was a hoax meant to get exactly the response it got. Maybe even a dry run to make sure the next time, people will be more reluctant to respond. Eventually there will be a real bomb brought to a school.

  56. The school didn’t overreact. Teachers and administrators aren’t supposed to be experts in determining what is a bomb and what is not. We don’t want them spending time trying to decipher a suspicious device. Race is not the issue. The device was suspect. EVERY kid today knows that they are not even supposed to bring a pocket knife to school. He really didn’t think this would raise some questions? The administration did the right thing for their students, and as the police chief noted, they were going to be criticized no matter which way they went on this. So, they opted for the side of caution regarding this clock and this student and they are taking the heat. As a Maker and a Dad with kids in elementary school I sadly understand that this is what has to happen nowadays in light of situations like Charleston and Newtown.

  57. it is sad that harsh treatment/penalty can be considered the norm for kids no matter the background but unfortunately the blame belongs to the signs of the times. the hullabaloo is not necessary from any direction. a ‘mistake?’ was made and corrected.

    1. This argument you make is like flypaper for the misinformed. The school wasn’t evacuated because they knew it was a clock. Then they had to ascertain if it was a intended to be a hoax device, which is also illegal. A harder call, and the kid was detained. The idea that the cops overreacted and that this incident was contrived are not mutually exclusive. Make can pretend all they want but they stepped in it big time….they know it, and we know it.

  58. Innocent little Ahmed’s sister was suspended for phoning in a bomb threat to her school 3 years ago. It’s weird, I had 5 siblings and we all managed to graduate college without a single bomb threat.

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Senior Editor for Make: I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.

I'd always love to hear about what you're making, so send me an email any time at caleb@make.co

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