Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Stupidity of People

I am mad this morning.  I am soooo mad.  I spend an unbelievable amount of my time and resources with children who have no outlet at schools that don't understand kids interested in engineering and read this article about a child who loves robotics and tinkering and was in the robotics club in middle school and becomes a freshman in high school where there is less opportunity to do this kind of stuff.  So he is looking for his 'tribe' of people and builds a clock out of electronic parts (by the way, a project that is on the front pages of maker magazines constantly, educational websites, and tons of kits in stores) and takes it to high school and shows his engineering teacher who tells him to put it away and then the police come and arrest the kid -- BECAUSE HE IS MUSLIM (just read what the police say).  I am sorry - he looks like a 'nerd' to me - not a terrorist.  Common sense people.  Common sense.   When you read it - the kid did NOTHING out of the ordinary where you could even read the reasons for doubt in the teacher's minds.  No threats, jokes, nothing.  This is a common occurrence and bigotry at work.

He has been suspended from school and is in juvenile detention and has never said anything other than - 'it is a clock I built'.  He was paraded out of school in handcuffs in front of the student body.  That could have been my child who takes his 3-D printed widgets to school daily to show friends and discuss what he made the night before (my child is also brown eyed, dark haired and light brown skinned).  This is exactly how I counseled my child to meet like-minded kids to make friends last year when he started attending a school where he knew no-one.  'Go to the robot meeting and see who is there from your classes, bring some widgets and show them around, you'll find some kids who are interested and make friends!'.

The last line of the article is heartbreaking - "he has vowed never to take an invention to school again".  But worse is that this legal nightmare is not over for him and his family - he still hasn't been allowed back to school.

Uneducated Bigots.  This is why this EVIL diatribe around immigration and non-white skinned people is WRONG and people need to stop promoting it and watching it and staying silent.  When a bright kid can't invent in his hometown and put together educational materials because his skin isn't white - our country will NEVER BE GREAT AGAIN.

This child - properly encouraged - could have been the one to develop low cost electric cars, a way to
 Why has our country become this??  Where the image
 of the nerd wearing a NASA shirt is a terrorist and
 those (yes, same state) on the right are not and ok.  
protect against concussions, a new cure for a disease - now he knows that being smart and innovative is a straight shot to the jail cell as well as the hundreds of other kids in that high school that witnessed this happening.   Better to put your head down and play video games instead of tinker with your hands and understand how things work.   Is this the society we want?

This brings me back to our high priced private school where teachers would get glassy eyed when David would tell them about his robots and his meetings with patent attorneys and the conference he was going to in Austria.  They would pat him on the head verbally and mumble things about how it was great he liked to play with LEGOs  They were sooooo technically illiterate at the most basic level that they couldn't even begin to comprehend what he was doing and so swept it aside as toys.  But I guess better than call the cops on him!  He felt so ignored and small there.  Imagine how this child feels!?

Just a few of the electronic clock kits on MakerShed this week.
From Amhed's description of his device - it looked like one
of these with a digital display.  Not the large board in his picture.
When I go to the local electronics store - there must be a dozen
such kits for kids there! 
As I write this, my robot team member that just moved to Germany for the year has been texting me from there (after school I presume now).  He is chomping on the bit to get our telepresence robot up and running so he can Skype in and work in my basement remotely and is asking me questions (it is 8 am here - on a Wednesday).  That is the power of ENCOURAGEMENT instead of punitive actions.  He could be playing video games and sulking over being overseas away from his friends but instead he is taking creative positive steps to keep engaged in activities this child was trying to do.

Read Twitter today.  #IStandWithAhmed.  Amazing the
luminaries who are coming out in support of this kid.  And
what a totally dumb spokesperson.  "A clock tells time, I wanted
build one.  End of story".  And by the way dimwits, a clock has to be
connected to a fuse and explosives.  DUH.



The best way to make a radical -- exclude them from mainstream society and sideline them for no reason.  Way to go.

My next step is to help some of my engineering friends track this kid down and let him know that the
greater community thinks he is special.  We should all send a note to his school and police department telling them how wrong they are.

Tricia

19 comments:

  1. So sad to do this to a kid who is trying to do something interesting and creative. It's a very sad statement for our country

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  2. This makes me cry - for what my country has become and for what was done to this boy.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this with us, Tricia. It brings tears to my eyes.

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  4. When I think back to when I went to high school, we were two years away from getting to the moon and were taught how computers worked using a match box and two different colored marbles, it makes me sick. The kids today are at least as smart (probably smarter), but intelligence is shown the door. The cops should be ashamed of themselves.

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  5. My word. I somehow thought such racial and religious bigotry was confined to South Africa. As you say, seek the young boy out. I think this problem can only be dealt with one person at a time. And the time is so short. So very sad. LeslieAnn

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  6. Cool update! The President has invited this young man to the White House, WITH his clock!! Yea!!!

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  7. What a perfect way to radicalize a bright kid! What a brilliant way to tell a brilliant child to just stop!

    I wish we had a sarcasm font for anyone who might think I'm happy about this. Thank goodness the President has stepped in.

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  8. It's actually making this kid's year! He is switching schools. He is going to the White House Astronomy Night (basically a science fair), has been invited to visit Zuckerman, and has just accepted invites to tour astrophysics labs at MIT and Harvard. It was an awful, idiotic, terrible thing that his school and the cops did. But, doors are opening for him and good will come out of it. I hope this helps people see that this prejudice is stupid. The kid said he would never bring an invention to school again a couple of days ago. Tonight, he was beaming and talking about patents at a press conference. He sounds like a normal, decent 14 year old who talks in cliches. Typical kid!

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  9. On an unrelated note, someone is asking elsewhere about identifying crafting work scientifically. I would to send them a link to those posts of the high-tech analysis of-OMG stitches that you did for Faith. But, I can't find the links. Do they still exist? They were fascinating! Thanks!

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  10. What an outrage! I'm so pleased to read that people are doing something about it, including the President. Hopefully this will mitigate the issues for this kid, but what about all those that go under the radar?

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  11. The more more people see all of us reacting in outrage, signing the protests, tweeting the hashtags, (and I most certainly did, until the good news started rolling in!!!!), and praising those in a position to help, the more people realize they shouldn't *do* those things. They have to get used the to idea that it isn't ok, by seeing the outrage. Partially it is fear, spurred on by media. So we need to show them it is *fine*! He is a typical, creative, kid!

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  12. Very, very sad. The teacher is the problem, not the young man.

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  13. This sad story is an example of what has been going wrong in this country...but ultimately, it looks to be a start of what can go right! Nowadays,it takes far more than a village- it takes all of us. And Ahmed looks like he might be another guy who'd enjoy joining up with your team via skype!
    As for the police not knowing why a teenage boy might want to build a clock? It simply beggars the imagination.

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  14. I have one of these kids too (11yo). He loves combining random stuff into something that works. He used Youtube videos to figure out how to build speakers from paper, wire, tape, magnets. Lucky for him he has a Dad who who also loves to tinker with electronics.

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  15. I think it is absolutely WRONG to have come down on this kid like the Texas police/people did. He is a bright nice kid who happens to be Muslim. We have GOT to get over our ignorant attitude about other ethic people and religions. We need to keep stirring the pot of diverse, ethnic people to make for a better country- there are so many different people to add to the pot.
    This, to me, doesn't speak well for our country.
    Open up your hearts People!!

    KarenW

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  16. You are such a blessing to put into words all these thoughts. Your abilities to wordsmith many peoples same thoughts into a comprehensive read was excellent. I abhor the way Americans find it necessary to put people into categories. I was raised to respect people, and it was never about race or creed, it was about the pure nature of respect. I think everyone should shout it from the rooftops - "we are all Americans - we choose to live in the United States of America." I also think that making false accusations of this nature should not be pushed on the side as nothing. There should be public apologies made and people called to task and put on for being judgmental. My wish is that the young man finds a wealth of good in his life!

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