Ahmed Mohamed used to be the 14-year-old whose passion for science landed him in handcuffs in September. Now, Ahmed is about to become the 14-year-old whose passion for science brought him to the White House. Ahmed's story received attention in the media after he built a clock — on his own — and brought it into school to show his teacher. The teacher claimed she thought it was a bomb (it wasn't), and reported the freshman and former middle school robotics club member to the police. President Barack Obama took note of the injustice, joining the internet in the cry #IStandWithAhmed, and inviting him to the White House. And former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted about Ahmed, too! Obama made good on that offer by including Ahmed in this year's White House Astronomy Night, scheduled for Monday night.
The event aims to afford Ahmed and other kids interested in STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — the opportunity to pursue these areas in a safe and robust space. "We see the promise — not just for our economy but for our health and well-being — in the human capacity for creativity and ingenuity," Obama said, at a medal ceremony for distinguished scientists that preceded 2009's Astronomy Night. Ahmed has that kind of capacity, and it needs to be recognized, not stunted. The arrest showcased a disastrous trio: Islamophoia, ignorance, and intolerance for eager learning. Astronomy Night alone can't make this go away, but we hope it will be fun for Ahmed, and help reignite the commendable curiosity that got him in trouble in the first place. Astronomy Night will take place on the White House South Lawn and livestreamed here.