55327_girl-writing_md In what sounds like a bad dystopian SF novel, 14 year old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested earlier this week in Dallas for building a digital clock. Ahmed is a 9th grader at MacArthur High School and built the clock in about 20 minutes on Sunday night. He took it in to school to show to his engineering teacher, but the clock beeped in English class and the teacher confiscated it. Ahmed was arrested later in the day and taken to juvenile detention when he couldn’t provide a satisfactory reason for building the clock.

There is some suspicion that Ahmed’s name had something to do with his arrest, plus the fact he’s the son of African immigrants. Still, this points out the perils of being an engineer and trying to communicate with first, the average high school staff, and second, the average police officer. This is nothing against the average high school staff, or police officers, either one. They both try hard and often do good work. Still, the folks in Dallas seemed to have some trouble dealing with this situation.

Ahmed was suspended for three days while the police “investigate,” and so far he’s spent his time looking for another high school to transfer to, plus answering invitations to the White House and to science events. In this case, social media has done a good thing. It has publicized the fact that some children are, indeed, brilliant, and capable of inventing things at an early age. It has also allowed concerned adults to contact Ahmed with support and opportunities to advance his engineering skills. Maybe he should have been more “down” instead?

For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a trend to pretend you’re only average when you are, in fact, very brilliant and accomplished. It pervades the average high school, and kids are persecuted if they don’t conform. Remember that bright kids need your support.