The affinity to sciences starts very early for a lot of our scientists and sometimes results in lava on the ceiling, unexplainable goo on the floor, acid eaten counters and yeah, explosions.
Kiera Wilmot, 16, of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida, near Tampa, was arrested in April when she blew up a water bottle in her high school science lab by mixing household chemicals that surprisingly erupted from the bottle, according to NewsOne. But, one former NASA engineer Homer Hickam thought that her stellar high school career should not be tarnished by her scientific curiosity and he awarded her an unexpected scholarship to attend the United States Advanced Space Academy (ASA).
The charges have since been dropped, but after the explosion she was led away from the school in handcuffs and charged with adult felony charges of “possession and discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device.” She was also expelled and made to serve a 10-day suspension and required to complete her diploma in an expulsion program.
The ASA program is in Huntsville, Alabama, and is a college-accredited program sponsored by the University of Alabama that includes STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and college and career preparation. Kiera’s mother, Marie Wilmot, works at the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute and is quite excited for her daughter’s opportunity.
“Kiera is a bright, imaginative young lady who loves science, technology, engineering and math – and she also loves music and art,” said Marie Wilmot, Kiera’s mother. “In today’s terminology, they would refer to it as STEAM, which is the STEM field with the arts added in. Kiera joined her middle school Robotics Team, which is where her love of robotics began,” she told Uptown Magazine.
But according to the magazine it doesn’t stop there. Kiera has a twin sister that is also interested in the sciences and Hickam is working toward finding funds so that the sisters can attend the program together. Homer Hickam is also the author of an autobiographical novel titled Rocket Boys: A Memoir, that was the basis for the 1999 film October Sky starring Jake Gylenhall. It is the story of Hickam’s life being raised as a coal miner’s son who eventually became a NASA engineer because he was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 to take up rocketry against his father’s wishes.
Bravo Wilmot family! The absurdity of Kiera’s arrest must have made Hickam want to investigate and honor someone so young and obviously severely mistreated by our penal system. Bravo to Homer Hickam as well.
Read more of her story at the Black Youth Project site.
April 20, report on Kiera Wilmot’s arrest: