Ahmed Muhammad couldn’t believe what he was hearing when his young niece and nephew assured him they weren’t interested in science. Ayla (8) and Ahmeer (6) told him, “I don’t like science. I’m not good at it.” So, Ahmed, a rising high school senior at Oakland Tech, decided to do something about it. He took Ayla and Ahmeer out to their backyard and helped them conduct their first science experiment.
Together they filled a cup with water, poured a bit of oil on top, placed some leaves inside and sealed the top. A couple of hours later, droplets of water appeared on the glass jar. There was only one explanation for how the water escaped the oil. The scientific conclusion was that plants breathe out water by releasing condensation through their leaves.
Next up were pop rockets. Ahmed found a couple of empty film canisters and filled them with water. He drew an outline of rocket fins and a nose cone on a piece of cardboard for his niece and nephew to color and cut. When the rockets were ready, he dropped an Alka-Seltzer tablet in each and closed the lid. A few moments later the rockets exploded and flew towards the sky. The kids were over the moon excited.
Ahmed is an exceptional student. He’s taken every math class offered by his high school. He’s also currently enrolled in several college courses including Multivariable Calculus at Berkeley City College, Intro to Astronomy at College of Alameda, and General Physics 2 with Calculus at Merritt College. He’s the kind of student for whom a 4.0 grade average is just not good enough.
The energy of his niece and nephew’s curiosity that day in the backyard filled his heart and so he decided to try and get more kids excited about science. Because of the pandemic quarantine, he had a bit of extra time on his hands, which he used to launch a passion project called Kits Cubed.
Kits Cubed is a non-profit dedicated to helping ignite every child’s scientific imagination. Ahmed spent all of his savings on simple science experiment materials and assembled kits he could mail to kids. Each one contains hard-to-find ingredients and an instruction manual. He donated sixty kits to students at Piedmont Avenue Elementary and is selling more online. He’s also raising money to buy kits for kids who can’t afford to pay for them.
In the era of Black Lives Matter, Ahmed wants the science and math professions to be more inclusive of African Americans. “There’s something going on where we’re being discouraged from science and math,” Ahmed said. “There are so many layers to it. One, we don’t have access to science early on. We aren’t being inspired by science. Also, there are not enough Black teachers. I had one Black teacher in the first grade and one Black teacher in high school.”
So Ahmed is doing his part to make sure science is celebrated in his community, and to show Black youth that being educated is something to be proud of.
Oaklandish is proud to collaborate with Ahmed Mohammad and Kits Cubed. We have collaborated to create two fun science kits. With the Classic Science kit, kids can watch a delicious rock candy treat grow right before their eyes, learn about Newtonian physics by engineering a catapult, and build a potato battery that actually works. With the Original Experiment Kit, kids can build a pop rocket, kaleidoscope, and a plant maze. The kits are designed for future scientists in grades K - 5 but the younger ones might need a little help with the experiments.
For every kit you buy and receive, Oaklandish will give Kits Cubed the funds needed to donate another to a local elementary school. Why not buy a bunch of kits and spark the scientific imagination of many future scientists in The Town.