A perfect shitstorm of Islamophobia and technophobia appears to have congealed outside Dallas in the case of a ninth grader arrested after he brought a homemade clock to school. The student, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed of Irving, Texas, was a big fan of robotics club in middle school, according to The Dallas Morning News. As a new high schooler, he thought he’d show off his Maker prowess by bringing in a simple digital clock he built at home in about 20 minutes, he told the Morning News. Instead, a teacher decided a circuit board plus wires must equal one thing: mortal danger.

“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” Ahmed told the Morning News.

By mid-afternoon, police were leading the boy out of school in handcuffs and taking him to juvenile detention on suspicion of making a “hoax bomb.” Authorities are still investigating the case, the Morning News reports, even though they acknowledge the ninth grader never said the device was anything but a clock. “‘It looks like a movie bomb to me,’” Ahmed said one of the officers told him.

In the interest of aiding the investigation—and assisting authorities everywhere should similar cases arise—we at WIRED thought it would be helpful to post some instructions kids and their families can follow to make their own clocks at home. What would happen if kids across the country decided to take their own homemade clocks to school that they made following those instructions? Who knows. Maybe if enough young people make clocks, teachers and police will at least learn what a clock looks like, even on the inside. Or, if that’s too much to ask, maybe they’ll just learn to trust their students when they describe what they’ve made.

We get it: technology can be scary: after all, open up any computer or smartphone, and what’s inside? Circuits! Or should we say, a hoax bomb waiting to happen.


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How to Make Your Own Homemade Clock That Isn’t a Bomb