• Wed, May 1 2013

Teen Girl With A Penchant For Science Is Slapped With Felony Charges After Her Experiment Explodes

scienceGiven all the data that is out there regarding young girls and STEM fields, ladies who demonstrate an interest in science should be culturally supported. A quick peruse of certain popular culture guarantees that they certainly won’t be getting that support elsewhere. Yet when 16-year-old Kiera Wilmot, who reportedly “got good grades” and had “a perfect behavior record” had a science experiment go awry, she was slapped with felony charges. Way to support our young girls in the sciences.

Wtsp.com reports that the teen was arrested and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school property and discharging a destructive device. At seven a.m. that morning at Bartow High School, Kiera allegedly mixed some “household chemicals” in an eight-ounce water bottle. The top reportedly popped off creating a “small explosion” complete with smoke. No one was hurt, according to reports.

In addition to her criminal charges, she has since been expelled from Bartow High School. It remains unclear whether there was any malice in the experiment. But even the young lady’s school principal, as well as her peers, believe that she didn’t possess any vicious motives:

“She is a good kid,” said principal Ron Pritchard. “She has never been in trouble before. Ever.”

Wilmot’s friends and classmates said it was “a science project gone bad, that she never meant to hurt anyone.”

Even the teen’s principal said, “She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don’t think she meant to ever hurt anyone. She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did.  Her mother is shocked too.”

In response to the incident, Polk County Schools released the following statement:

“Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.”

Said “bad choice” warrants some wrist-slapping by the school administrators. A suspension maybe for risking the safety of other students and faculty in taking such a scientific whim on school grounds. But penalizing a seemingly precocious 16-year-old with such grave charges specifically for taking those scientific risks at all undermines scholarship.

(photo: Africa Studio / Shutterstock)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shelly-Lloyd/826469442 Shelly Lloyd

    Too bad she didn’t just rape a football player, she could have gotten a pat on the back and college scholarship if she had. Oh wait, that only works if you are a male.

    • Koa Beck

      WORD

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      WORD and word. Plus, people are trying to trend #FreeKieraWilmot on Twitter. We need to start a scholarship for this girl

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      *Slow clap*

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      I totally get the clapping, and I support you because it totally is WORD and BOOM, but I just wanted to clear up that *slow clap* is actually an insult. As in “a moronic act meriting a sarcastic slow clap”.

      just lookin’ out.

    • Justme

      That’s not how I’ve ever read a *slow clap* – I always think about it like at the end of pretty much every teenage movie ever made…when the “dorky” kid stands up to the school bully and the crowd around them stands in amazement and then that one kid in the back starts the slow clap and then it builds and builds and then finally the “dorky” kid is carried out on the shoulders of his peers while the bully is left to hang his head in shame.

      Or maybe I watch too many movies.

    • lea

      According to urban dictionary you are both right. But I think the slow clap leading to standing ovation is the more popular and common usage of the term (and certainly the only one I’ve ever come across).

    • Sara

      I believe the appropriate response to that would be “BOOM”.

    • http://twitter.com/marisasaystweet MarisaSays

      This. Seriously, WTF?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Sunshine.Paradis Danielle Paradis

      +1000

  • smismsmash

    When I was in high school, three of the boys in my science class did an experiment which involved hurling pumpkins out of a moving car and measuring the speed and force of their impact on things. They got an A. Sooo….

  • chickadee

    If only the girl had had the foresight to be born to white, influential parents. I’m sure that her experiment wouldn’t have violated the school’s code in that case.

  • Fabel

    For real? Ugh, FUCK this trend of charging kids with a crime for dumb bullshit like this. It’s unbelievably damaging.

  • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

    Hell, screw the school board. If I was her parent I’d take a week vacation and I’d be in my backyard asking her to recreate her experiment cause it sounds awesome. I’d then proceed in having fun doing some Mythbuster style experiments, filming them and sending them to the schoolboard, ending the footage with us thumbing our noses at them. Then I’d send it to the Mythbusters and ask if she could come on as a guest scientist. And they would say yes cause she’s awesome. And they like women scientists, even geeky pregnant ones. And I like geeks that like geeky pregnant scientists. And I just went totally off course, but yeah.

    I failed science. But it still excites me. Like… peanut butter jelly time excites me.

  • libraryofbird

    This is a gross over reaction and it should be reversed. That being said I would like to know where on school property this happened? Everything I have read is pretty vague about that.

  • Justme

    1. Where was the teacher? If a student is in a classroom doing any sort of work, shouldn’t there be an adult present?

    2. Something similar happened at my school and the child was dealt with internally – the fire alarms went off and trucks arrived, but the police allowed the school to deal with the discipline.

  • Alisande F

    What the fuck is this? Why wasn’t she supervised? It is insane.

    • Guest

      I heard she told the principle in advance. Of course I just heard that on REDDIT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sunshine.Paradis Danielle Paradis

    You know that you could have the kid pick up garbage after school rather than ruining her life forever right principal/school board?

  • Katherinne.D
  • Lastango

    Perhaps we are seeing two forces at work here. The first force is self-fulfilling bureaucracy. Everyone, from the school administrators to the police, are covering their own butts by playing out their roles. It’s like SWAT teams. As has been learned the hard way in what some call “the SWAT-ification of America”, when a SWAT team is formed it’s going to be used — in the same sense that “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. So this event gets elevated from a from a poor, kid-type choice to a crime because it CAN be, and all involved know the fig leaf of “public safety” and “concern” can be used to shield the authorities. After all, as every bureaucrat has by now internalized, there’s no such thing as being “too concerned” about schools and children.
    =
    The second force might be careerism, and public service pensions. Up through the 1960′s, it wasn’t unheard of for someone stopped for speeding to pay a “spot fine” by slipping the beat cop a few bucks. According to some accounts, that ended mainly because pensions for police officers got to be large enough to where the risk of being fired — and losing the pension — was much more significant that the benefit to be gained by occasionally taking small amounts of cash. Now, paychecks and pensions in the public sector can be not only attractive, but in some places are even extravagant. The upshot is that every official’s goal is to get to the finish line without knocking themselves out of the game. Instead of exercising discretion, they adhere closely to the rules. That means they’re willing to occasionally sacrifice someone like this high school student (and her future) to make sure they get what they want for themselves.

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  • faifai

    The girl created a Drano bomb. You know, like in snopes (http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/bottlebomb.asp). You mix Drano with stuff in a water bottle and it causes a violent explosion with chemicals that can cause severe burns & scars just by touching you. This isn’t harmless science, this is incredibly dangerous stuff. And yes she’s a model student who made a very bad choice but seriously, think about it. Think about what Drano does to skin, then think about it exploding. THEN decide if you want to yell imprecations at the school from your position on the back of that high horse.

  • Lastango

    Here’s another one, with authorities going apeshit because they can.
    A student had a shotgun in his car after skeet shooting. When he discovered this, he went to the administrative office and asked permission to leave school grounds to take it home. The school administration expelled him, had him arrested, and won’t allow him to graduate with his class.
    http://www.wral.com/classmates-rally-around-princeton-student-expelled-for-gun-in-car/12401713/

  • http://www.facebook.com/dreaver1 Marian Dreaver

    I don’t understand why she would even be suspended to be quite honest. Sometimes there are small explosions when you do chemistry it is part of the fun. One thousand words on where she went wrong in her experimentation seems like a much more measured response to it all seeming that would be a bit of a punishment but also teach her something.

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