Teen kicked out of school over science experimentAs school districts around the nation attempt to encourage students to take an interest in math and science, one Florida honor student has been expelled from school and is facing felony chargers over an apparent experiment gone awry.

By all accounts 16-year-old Kiera Wilmot is a model student. She gets good grades, comes from a great family, and her principal at Bartow High School calls her “exemplary.” But after she mixed together two household cleaning items in an eight-ounce bottle and caused a small explosion, the honor student finds herself facing jail time.

The Miami New Times reports:

At 7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.

Wilmot claims she was merely conducting a science experiment and wanted to see how the common chemicals will react, but school police arrested the teen and charged her with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device.

Though no one was hurt and no damage was caused during the small explosion, Wilmot was expelled from school and must complete her diploma through a special expulsion program.

Many have called the school district’s decision an overreaction, but the Polk County School district is standing by its decision to harshly punish the teen.

“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,” the district said in a statement. “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.”

Wilmot’s principal, Ron Pritchard told a local news affiliate the teen is a good student who simply made a mistake.

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

Schools should be a place for intellectual curiosity,  but unfortunately for Wilmot, her penchant for science got her in serious trouble.

*h/t to  Carolyn Edgar.


Want to voice your displeasure with the district’s decision to oust the teen? Contact the Polk Country School district: 

Polk County Superintendent: Dr. John Stewart /Address: 1915 South Floral Avenue, Bartow, FL 33831 Phone: (863) 534-0521 Fax: (863) 519-8231 Email: Dr. John Stewart

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  • If she took it upon herself to bring these chemicals to school and perform this experiment, then unfortunately, she got what she deserved. Thank God, she didn’t hurt herself or someone else because this could have been a lot worse.
    On the other hand, if this was part of a class assignment and her teacher knew that she was outside whipping up some chemicals, well, the school most definitely over reacted. But like many others have said, there are just not enough details here.

    The good news here is that she was previously an “exemplary” student and this one transgression shouldn’t hold her back from becoming whatever it is she would like to become.

  • GlowBelle

    I can’t really give too much of a pass for this young woman because there seems to be not enough details, lots of speculation, plus the main thing that proves why the school panicked is that she didn’t do this ‘experiment’ in a school lab. All of this could have been avoided if she had done so. I took advanced chemistry in high school and we had to sign papers and get the teacher’s permission before doing any kind of experiment in the lab. You don’t “play” with chemicals, esp. when you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. That is dangerous. So why didn’t she consult a teacher? In the wake of the Boston bombings and school shootings, doing something like this is putting yourself and a whole bunch of others in trouble. I’m sorry, but we can’t have nice things anymore. Still those incidents shouldn’t stop kids from pursuing science — but you just have to follow the rules.

    Those citing that her experimenting makes kids fear creativity and kills education don’t realize that by simply letting an instructor know what she was doing, she could have prevented herself from getting into trouble and looking all kinds of suspicious. If she was trying to impress friends or bullied into doing the experiment, we need to know this, and we don’t. I really don’t want to believe this young woman was intentionally trying to make a bomb, and I hope that this was all a misunderstanding and that if so the charges against her are dropped, but I hope she learns a valuable lesson that you have to THINK about what you are doing and if its the time and place you should be doing it.

  • noirluv45

    Yes, Kiera’s experiment wasn’t a smart thing to do. To me, it’s not about whether or not she should be punished, but the punishment itself. Like someone else stated on this site, the prosecutor showed compassion in the case of a boy who shot and killed his brother will a BB gun because “it was an accident.” YET, a black girl makes a decision to blow up a bottle out of curiosity – no one gets hurt, not even property – and she not only gets expelled, but will be CHARGED AS AN ADULT for the “crime.” I mean, really?

  • wake up

    These cases never seem to surprise me. And honestly this isnt startling news. There is an alarmingly disproportionate amount of black children being railroaded into the for-profit prison industrial system for infractions which would result in a slap on the wrist for white children.

    Black people gotta stop playing around and realize that were sitting ducks out here. As soon as something pops off with any other group of people, they react as a collective. The only time we do so is when we’re harming or demeaning each other but as soon as an outside group does us wrong “we gotta wait for all the facts”. This is why our children are under attack.

    Where are all those white feminist groups who were out in the forefront against Rick Ross? Why arent they defending this young child whose facing felony charges for being curious? Why is it that everytime blacks commit an infraction against each other, groups outside our community are in the forefront speaking out. Yet when they do harm to us, were the only ones rallying?

    When asian/white/latino people are done wrong, they get together, they lobby, they put their money, connections and resources together and they get their needs/ rights taken care of and their people get defended. Were the only ones still begging the president for help just because he looks like us. And when other groups have done wrong, they shut up, they dont break rank, they arent divisive. Even if their people have done wrong, they shut up and stay strong whether theyre right or wrong. How many white people have donated money to Zimmerman? Even though hes flat out wrong. They dont care, they shut up and support their own. Were the only ones who dont. So when other groups see that we cant even stick together to support our people, not be divisive and take care of our business, it gives them free reign to crap on us. Am I suggesting rallying for people even when theyre wrong? No but we dont need to be all in the camera telling the reporters how bad that person was. We just need to shut up.

    How many times has a white kid blown something up and the media instantly regards them as a good kid who would never hurt a fly (even though they usually have a history of violent behavior) and instantly suggest that just kid needs psychological evaluation, or they keep their mouths shut and dont say anything at all (Or they sweep it under the rug). But as soon as our kids are curious, theyre labeled fellons, thugs and deserve jail time? I can even be mad at the system anymore or blame them because we allow it. No other group would tollerate the mistreatment we allow. Our buying power CONTROLS this country, yet we still look at ourselves as second class citizens.

    So what do we need to do?

    Start donating to elected officials campaigns as a collective – This is how the gay community gets their needs met and I applaud them for it. They donate major funds to candidates they can swing in their favor, automatically making that politician indebted to that group of people. THEN then march and demonstrate to back up those dollars. ALL we do is march and think Obama should care. Who would you help, the people who just gave you millions or the people who expect something just because they voted?
    Obama got on the phone with Jason Collins within two days of him coming out. Why? Because the gay community in California alone gave Obama over 8 million dollars in donations for his last campaign. That was JUST in cali alone.

    The moment we put our dollars to work is the moment we’ll get our needs met, our communities provided for and our children protected.

    • Wong Chia Chi

      This is what I keep saying but nobody I know wants to hear it. Where are the black people who think like you? I need to find them.

      Like I the poster I quoted said, a felony charge makes no sense, even without all the details.