Good news coming out of Florida this week: 16-year-old Kiera Wilmot won't be charged with dual felonies for conducting a science experiment on school grounds at her public school in Bartow, Fla., the Florida State Attorneys office has announced. The announcement comes after 195,000 people from across the country signed an online petition demanding the charges be dropped.
On April 22 in the hours before school started, Wilmot mixed a household chemical with aluminum foil inside a water bottle and placed the cap on it as part of a science experiment. She reportedly expected the reaction to create a little smoke, but instead the bottle popped with a firecracker-like sound and produced more smoke than anticipated.
No one was injured and no property was damaged, but nonetheless the school administration phoned the police, who arrested Wilmot for "possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds" and "discharging a destructive device"--charges that could have led to Wilmot finishing high school in a juvenile facility and entering her adult life with a record. Wilmot has an outstanding school record and her principal describes her as both a "good kid" and one who has no record of being in any kind of serious trouble.
Her story set off a wave of criticism in the science community and led to an online petition supporting Wilmot--and encouraging scientific curiosity among American youth in general. Whether it was the public outrage or a bout of common sense that seized Florida's State Attorneys office, the felony charges have been dropped and Wilmot is free to continue being a high school student genuinely curious about science and the world around her.
Arresting the youth served the law and not the intent of the law of which it was created to protect. Arresting this young violated protecting this youth future, where good local common sense judgment was only need to investigate the situation and provide leadership and counsel for the youth.
I imagine some elected public official felt the wrath of the voters with the petition, and then found desire to implement the original missing common sense needed for the incident.
There are a couple of parties involved here that lacked common sense. The State Attorneys office is mentioned, but seriously, shouldn't school officials who made the phone call also be at blame? Instead of calling the police, take two seconds and ask one simple question first, "What happened?" Without question, the student would have been able to provide a satisfying answer. Sheesh!
In space, no one can hear a tree fall in the forest.
@D13 - This is exactly why we have schools that have crazy reactions to kids holding a chicken nugget like a gun. Its not the fact that the act itself deserves punishment but schools are scared sh*tless that some parent will sue the them.
Not even the original parents either, some jack-offs mom will sue the school for putting their kids in an environment where a student can mix chemicals (They brought from home) and create any kid of disturbance.
In short, let kids be kids and keep litigation out of it.
Where the f*ck did his comment go?
Schools are no place to raise a child. When tab A doesn't fit into tab B the whole project gets thrown out.
I'm just glad that they dropped all charges and got humiliated at the same time.
If this girl has half a brain she would have known what would happen. Where did she get the idea for this experiment? Come on guys... kids have been making "Works bombs" for a long time. I agree that two felonies is a little steep, but I certainly hope they still hold her accountable. She is incredibly fortunate if you ask me.
@nathanconnor03 Oh yea? Well, your mother makes $63 selling her sweet bottom to any one who looks her way! I am sick of these spam messages, they are totally ridiculous.
It seems the post I made a few hours ago disappeared, perhaps problems with posting from my phone...
I agree with collegechristophe. This girl does need to be held accountable for doing such a reckless experiment. Not criminally, but socially responsible. A simple Google video search brings up thousands of videos showing people making home-made bombs using the ingredients she used. It's one thing to be curious, it's another thing to do reckless science. If she knew it would smoke, she should know it's exothermic. Exothermic reactions can get out of hand quite quickly.
Again, all she had to do was Google her proposed experiment to know it wouldn't safe for school.
zero tolerance and mandatory minimums, we need laws against such things
The support demonstrated here can be used by troublemakers now of every stripe to “protect” their engaging in all form of mischief, claiming they were “conducting an experiment”. How many condemning the authorities now won't lie and say they didn't condemn them should kids use this as an avenue to make a bomb and actually damage school property? “Because they were conducting an experiment”?
The article can also be credited with both endorsing the dull witted mentality so often found in those who find things “boring” and with denying the claims that “science” is exciting by proclaiming that there are experiments that are boring!
It would be nice to hear that her expulsion from high school has also been rescinded.
Did you know that you can pop an Ozarka water bottle lid by filling it up with a carbonated beverage like coke or DP and then shut lid all the way? I have accidentally did this two times. Okay really one time, the second time was for fun.
So, everyone on here who is agreeing with the fact that she was arrested, have never ever done a stupid thing in their lives, even as a child? I think not. Please!!
Children need leadership, guidance, teaching and discipline, so they won't have to feel the consequence of the law as an adult. The local leadership of these children for this particular act of the child showed incompetence in their duty for which they were hired. While the child was wrong, the child was just being natural and yes children do make wrong decisions; they care children.
They should have stoned her.
Well done! Justice is served.
Its nice to see there are still some intelligent people left.
Turning innocent children into hardened criminals is dumb.
Too much coffee joelp77440 ?
Drugs are bad.
Going to go on a limb here as a former teenager and say that she knew exactly what she was making. Granted, it's not typically lethal, it could probably still do some damage. When I was a kid I knew gasoline and fire would make an explosion, so I did not mix them.
If people were educated on information easily obtainable on the Internet maybe A) teachers would have known not to let her do the experiment. B) people would not let their kids take it from their homes.
Do I think she should face felony charges? That's stupid and teaches us nothing. Do I think the school should pull all the kids outside and let them see what one of these do and how dangerous it could be? Absolutely. Education teaches right from wrong not punishment.
Note the craven mentality fuzzyweed demonstrates here. Challenging that those who feel the girl should have been punished for unwarranted and potentially dangerous misuse of school property asking if they never did anything wrong in their past. What, then, is fuzzyweed's “principle”, endorse only those things, even a listless, non acting justice system, solely on whether it benefits you! A principled individual would say that, if you did foolish things in the past, it was right you were punished and right to punish someone equally as reckless now. fuzzyweed has no ethics only the overriding “principle”, “Whatever is right for me!”
I just wanted to say that I'm very happy they have dropped the charges. I hope the school let her back in as well. Don't get me wrong, she is pretty stupid to do this at school and should probably get some form of suspension but the criminal charges are ridiculous. The way schools treat kids now is insane. They completely strip them of their rights because they are terrified of being sued. Two quick stories about my childhood.
First, I've made plenty of works bombs in my day. Never at school, at my friends house, but we did record them and put them on youtube yada yada. Over a year and a half later we were all called down to the principals office. Our parents were called in (all who was in utter shock their time was being wasted like this) as well as a police officer. The school and police forced us to take down the videos and said if we didn't we would be charged because we created "an incendiary device"... I would love to know how they planned on legally classifying this as an incendiary device seeing as there is absolutely no fire involved, but whatever. We were kids, scared, so we took the videos down. This all stemmed from a complaint from a parent of some other child completely unrelated by the way.
Second, i was charged with a felony, unlawful use of a computer. I made a windows boot disk my senior year. Since the tech guys were obviously geniuses and didn't password protect bios i changed the boot sequence, booted up my own windows and made my own administrator account. I then used cain and abel to hack other students passwords because they are all dictionary words with numbers, very easy to crack. I did not damage to any computer and had no intentions to. I was simply a curious kid who liked having fun with computers to see what i could actually do. Well, i was caught because some random girl saw me remotely shut down my friends computer (after i had ensured he was not doing anything important, i'm nice like that). I was called down to the office with a tech guy and a police officer. They forced me, without reading me my rights mind you, to write a confession and explain exactly what i did. Long story short, i was finger printed and had to spend my savings for a lawyer to fight the charges in court. Ended up with 2 weeks suspension, possibility of expulsion, and almost a criminal record for being a curious kid interested in computers.
The whole point? Our school system is seriously flawed and no longer has the interests in the child at mind. They just want to protect their funding.
The child illustrated in this article is white with a baby bottle sweet mouth. I wonder if her image was used to gain sympathy for the article verse the original person being nonwhite.
A little tactful malipulationg of the masses here by the writers, eh, I suspect.
I wrote nonwhite, because I have not a clue of what is the most politically correct term should be, but my point stands the same.
I am on the side of the girl being punish to harshly via the law. It was ridicules!
julian penrod. what utter rubbish. 'I have no ethics' - I trust you know who I am then, as that is slanderous. I rest my case.
She did an extremely stupid thing, and yes she should have been reprimanded (by the school and her parents), but certainly not by the legal system, and most certainly should not have been arrested. I am glad that everyone has come to their senses.
fuzzyweed said it would be reasonable, and even eminently logical, for those who had committed wrongdoing in their past not to want similar or even worse wrongdoing punished. In other words, fuzzyweed was recommending not deciding the recompense for wrongdoing on the basis of the type of action it was, but, rather, solely in terms of whether we would want the same for ourselves doing the same wrong. In other words, not judging the reaction to crime on the basis of principle but solely on the basis of self interest. And that kind of mentality is indeed without ethics.
You have whine like all criminals in prison declaring innocence, but what you did was with mature intelligent intention and make the whine you should not be punished simply because of the number of your age. In your case, you deserve to be punish by the legal system.
Try following the rules and working within the system. Life will become much easier and positive for you.
Use you super powers for good!
Really? You honestly believe that?
A person is guilty of computer trespass when he knowingly uses or causes to be used a computer or computer service without authorization and:
1. he does so with an intent to commit or attempt to commit or further the commission of any felony; or
2. he thereby knowingly gains access to computer material.
Computer trespass is a class E felony.
This is what i was charged with. Nothing personal, but do you honestly believe that we should be charging high school students with a crime because they "knowingly gains access to computer material"... High school computer material that is; this isn't industrial espionage.
I understand why the law is exists, but this is hardly a shining example of why it should exist.
S T O N E H E R ! !
WE ALL MUST BE IGNORANTS, SCIENCE IS EVIL
That's how all stupid people like many here think!
"OMG WHY WOULD THE SCHOOL DO THIS???" Fear of litigation. That simple. Principal doesn't report an event and he or she loses their job. Johnny's has an asthma attack because of the smoke and his parents sue the school. The outrage here is misplaced. We should be attacking the litagious culture of our communities not the schools who are forced to react in this manner.
As a math teacher with a psychology degree, I find it intriguing that a girl was ultimately exonerated. I've seen gifted and conscientious male students in parallel situations basically done in by a criminal justice system that is strongly biased against teen boys--especially those of African or Latino descent. Kudos for the girl, now let's start giving boys (especially minority boys) a shot at redemption as well.