We Are Oaklandish: Ahmed Muhammad & Kits Cubed
Oaklandish is proud to collaborate with Ahmed Mohammad and Kits Cubed!
Kits Cubed is a youth-led, nonprofit organization on a mission to ignite every Oakland child’s scientific imagination. It was founded by Ahmed Muhammad after 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 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, then poured in some oil, 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 breathed out the water by releasing condensation through their leaves.
Next up were pop rockets. Ahmed found some empty film canisters and filled them with water. He drew an outline of rocket fins and a nose on 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.
Ahmed’s niece and nephew were over the moon excited. Their enthusiasm filled his heart and motivated him to try and get more kids excited about science. Ahmed had some extra time on his hands during the pandemic quarantine and decided to use it to launch Kits Cubed.
Ahmed spent his small savings on simple science experiment materials and assembled kits he could mail to kids. They each contained hard-to-find ingredients and an instruction manual. He subsequently donated sixty kits to students at Piedmont Avenue Elementary and then started to do community outreach to raise funds to buy more kits for kids who couldn’t afford to buy them.
KitsCubed has since donated nearly 2,000 science kits to Oakland schools and Ahmed plans to keep going until every Bay Area elementary student is introduced to the wonders of science.
In the era of Black Lives Matter, Ahmed wants the science and math professions to be more inclusive of African Americans. “Something is 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.”
Ahmed is the kind of student for whom a 4.0 GPA is the starting point and science is his favorite subject. When he was in elementary school, he participated in summer and afterschool science programs that provided him invaluable early exposure to hands-on science learning. These programs nurtured what will likely be a lifelong passion for science.
In high school, Ahmed enrolled in every science and math class on offer as well as taking several college-level courses during his senior year. Ahmed was Oakland Tech’s senior class valedictorian, the first African-American male to receive this honor in the school’s 107-year history.
Next fall Ahmed will join the freshman class at Stanford University where he plans to study science and computer engineering.
In 2020, Oaklandish collaborated with Ahmed to create and sell two science kits in our online store. Funds from the sale of these kits were used to make more Kits Cubed science kits to be donated to Oakland elementary schools.
We’re thrilled to release a Kits Cubed-themed tee and hoodie in a limited edition run, with an Oaklandish locker tag. The colors are a tribute to Black History Month, while the design draws inspiration from The Periodic Table of Elements. The chemical symbol Oa emblazoned on the chest with the atomic number 510 are tributes to Oakland’s elemental culture and spirit.
Oaklandish is donating half of the revenue from the sales of these hoodies and tees to Kits Cubed to help Ahmed spark and spread a passion for science among more of Oakland’s youth.
We’re thrilled to be continuing our collaboration with Ahmed to ensure science is celebrated in our community and to show Black youth that science can be an inspirational part of their lives.
Oakland is diverse and Oakland is proud. 'We Are Oaklandish' is a storytelling project created to highlight just that.
These are stories that shed light on the different experiences, memories, and opinions of the people in the city we all love. They are people who give our city its oddball spirit, its passion for justice, and its creative vigor. They lift us up with laughter, peace, nourishment, and authentic hard work.
They make us proud to call this town our home. They are Oaklandish.
Read more: We Are Oaklandish