Texas teen arrested for clock attends astronomy event at White House

John M. Grunsfeld (L), Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, poses for a selfie with Ahmed Mohamed, 14, the Texas teenager who was arrested after bringing a homemade electronic clock to school, during the second White House Astronomy Night on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington October 19, 2015.

JOSHUA ROBERTS, REUTERS

Last Updated Oct 19, 2015 10:50 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ahmed Mohamed, the 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 got a personal invitation from President Barack Obama for "Astronomy Night." The two met and chatted briefly during Monday night's event.

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

Last month, Ahmed brought the clock to his school to show a teacher, but another teacher thought it could be a bomb. The school contacted police, who ultimately chose not to charge Ahmed with having a hoax bomb, though he was suspended from school.

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

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."

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.

Before the White House event, he got to tour labs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The White House invitation has brought some backlash. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz complained that Obama didn't give law enforcement officials the same respect he's giving Ahmed. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday the president has made clear in many settings the respect he has for law enforcement officers.

Earnest said several hundred people will attend the astronomy event, so he doubted there would be any one-on-one meeting between the president and Ahmed.

The students visiting the South Lawn of the White House on Monday night will get the chance to explore samples of rocks from the moon, Mars and various meteorites. They will also meet with astronauts and peer at the planets and stars from telescopes.

On Tuesday, Mohamed will attend a news conference with Rep. Mike Honda, D-California, a congressman who sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for a Justice Department investigation into Mohamed's detention and arrest.