Irving Teen Who Made Homemade Clock at White House Event

The North Texas teenager arrested after a homemade clock he brought to school was mistaken for a bomb, capped a whirlwind month with a visit to the White House on Monday.

Ahmed Mohamed got a personal invitation from President Barack Obama for "Astronomy Night."

The two met and chatted briefly during Monday night's event, which was attended by hundreds of other students and teachers.

The president uses the event to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Obama never mentioned the teen by name in his Astronomy Night remarks but did encourage his kind of enterprise.

"We have to watch for and cultivate and encourage those glimmers of curiosity and possibility, not suppress them, not squelch them," Obama said.

The North Texas boy who was arrested for bringing his homemade clock to school, prompting outrage on social media, was invited to a White House astronomy event Monday.

Ahmed said he was grateful for the president's support and said he's OK with the nickname that so many have given him over the past few weeks -- "clock kid."

He said the lesson of his experience is: "Don't judge a person by the way they look. Always judge them by their heart."

The president did not have a private meeting with Ahmed, they did speak briefly as Obama left the event.

The White House Monday said the lack of a private meeting had nothing to do with criticism of the invitation from Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Ahmed Mohamed wore a NASA T-shirt when he was handcuffed by Irving Police on Sept. 14 for bringing a clock to school that some people thought looked like a bomb.

NBC 5 was the first to report the story on Sept. 15.

"The reason I took it was to show my teachers how I build stuff, and I can build stuff," he said that day, while at home serving a three-day suspension.

Obama subsequently tweeted an invitation to Ahmed and said the U.S. should inspire more kids like him to enjoy science.

On Sept. 16, Irving Police announced they had closed the case, concluding the teen intended no harm.

Irving Independent School District officials refused to apologize and said there is more they could say about how the incident was handled if the parents signed a privacy waiver, which has not happened.

Ahmed's visit to the White House Monday was just his latest meeting with dignitaries, including the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, last week, which has prompted some criticism because al-Bashir is wanted by International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes for atrocities linked to the Darfur fighting.

News of the Muslim freshman student's arrest spread around the world.

Former Dallas ISD Trustee Ron Price is serving as an advisor to the family.

"He's been invited to various, prestigious educational institutions, and we're evaluating which one is the best for him and his siblings to attend," Price said.

The teen did not bring his clock to the White House. In fact, the family has still not picked it up from Irving Police.

The kidnapping of a Fort Worth girl is raising questions about how Amber Alerts are issued and why cell phones failed to buzz with the emergency information Saturday night.

On Tuesday, the Mohamed family plans a U.S. Capital press conference with a member of Congress calling for a U.S. Justice Department investigation into what happened in Irving.

Ahmed's family is looking at several options for a new school. He hopes to eventually go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and become an engineer.

Ahmed posed for pictures with NASA astronaut Alvin Drew shortly before Obama addressed the students on the South Lawn.

Obama noted that NASA was developing the capabilities to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

"That means some of the young people who are here tonight might be working on that project," Obama said. "Some of you might be on your way to Mars. America can do anything."

The students visiting the South Lawn of the White House on Monday night got the chance to explore samples of rocks from the moon, Mars and various meteorites. They met with astronauts and peered at the planets and stars through telescopes.

NBC 5's Holley Ford and The Associated Press' Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

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