Success! Police Drop Charges Against Teen Arrested For Science Experiment

Florida police have dropped all charges against Kiera Wilmot, the teenager whose science experiment harmlessly exploded on school grounds. Initially, she was expelled from school and charged with two felonies: “possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds” and “discharging a destructive device.”

Thank you, Care2 activists, for helping to make this happen. Almost 23,000 of you signed our petition requesting that the felony charges against Kiera be dropped. Great work!

It was on April 22 that Kiera carried out a small experiment at her school, Bartow Senior High School, in Bartow, Florida. She was curious to find out how two common household products — toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil — would react, so she mixed them together in a small water bottle. To her surprise and everyone else’s, this caused a noise like a firecracker and let off a small amount of smoke. However, no one was hurt and no school property was damaged.

The sixteen-year-old was an exemplary student who was well-liked at her school. She got excellent grades and had never been in trouble. In other words, she was every teacher’s dream student.

So it is wonderful news that the state attorney’s office has decided not to charge Kiera with any crimes.

She has not been entirely exhonerated, however.

Here’s the statement from the State Attorney’s Office:

Based upon the facts and circumstances of the case, the lack of criminal history of the child involved, and the action taken by the Polk County School Board, the State Attorney’s Office extended an offer of diversion of prosecution to the child. The child and her guardian signed the agreement to successfully complete the Department of Juvenile Justice Diversion Program.

That means she will probably have to do some community service, but the pending case has been dismissed, and no formal charges will be filed.

Even better, ABC reports when Homer Hickman, an 18-year NASA veteran and author of the memoir “Rocket Boys,” later adapted into the film “October Sky,” heard about Kiera, he decided to give her a scholarship to the U.S. Space Academy,  a five-day college accredited course offered through the University of Alabama-Huntsville. And once he found out that Kiera had a twin sister, he raised enough money so they could attend the course together.

However, Kiera has still not been reinstated at her high school. She went through a 10-day suspension and has been finishing this year at an alternate school. The school district says they will take the state attorney’s actions into consideration when deciding if Kiera can return to school.

Let’s hope they do the right thing.

And thank you again, all you wonderful Care2 members, for signing the petition.


Photo Credit: online video


James Ellison
James Ellison4 years ago

Not quite sure I understand all of the relevant facts in this case. Was this student's experiment done in a controlled environment with a teacher present? And if so, why wasn't he/she held accountable for the acts of this well-meaning student? This is crucial information that appears to be purposely omitted from this story. If the answer is that a teacher was not present and that the experiment was not done in a controlled environment, then I absolutely understand why the school sought out disciplinary action against Kiera. Albeit, I think that the school administrators were a little overzealous. Nonetheless, it's shocking and sad that an exemplary student could be expelled while on the quest for knowledge, and even worst that the State of Florida would attempt to prosecute a child under those circumstances. Kudos to Homer Hickman for giving Kiera and her sister a scholarship to the Space Academy Camp. Shame on the State of Florida for forcing Kiera into a Juvenile Diversion Program and community service. And shame, shame on her school for not reinstating her the moment all charges against her were dropped. I only hope Bartow Senior High School is as tough on school bullies as they are on (as represented by Care2) unintentional infractions of its policies.

Michelle Rojas
J Thomas4 years ago

Wonderful news!

Nichola Mac Donough
Nichola Mac D4 years ago

OMG talk about a huge over-reaction both on the part of the school and by the Florida police. I mean charging her with two felonies: “possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds” and “discharging a destructive device.” I mean really???? Kids experiment, it's what they do, it's how they learn. Did it ever occur to anyone that experiments like these might encourage more kids into chemistry or other science subjects? The school district needs to 'grow a pair' and allow Kiera back to her school

Sarah L.
Sarah L.4 years ago

She made a mistake by mixing two chemicals in school without permission or supervision and without doing basic research (just google mixing toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil and the results say Toilet Bowl Cleaner Bomb!) Her good record shows this was probably an innocent accident so she shouldn't have been expelled or charged because luckily no one was hurt and we all made stupid mistakes in school, but she shouldn't be rewarded with a Space Academy scholarship either. Lots of students who follow the rules can't afford to go to Space Academy and this just sends out the message that maybe they could if they broke the rules enough to get on the news. I'm glad she got a second chance but I hope she learns the right lessons from this.

Ruth R.
Ruth R4 years ago

Yes! I hope that she goes on to have a good life and the wounds of this incidence heal up ad are no more -- as she is willing. Here is too -- blessings and a good life ahead.

Ben Calvin
Ben Calvin4 years ago

What is going on in Florida? Serious abuses of power against black people.

Lisa D'arcangelis
Lisa Plunkett4 years ago

Geez... things are so mixed up as far as what should be punishable and what was obviously a mistake.

Ethel Harris
Ethel Harris4 years ago

School should be letting her back, what is up there? Also, where was the teacher who should have known what she was doing before she did it, any safety issues there that maybe could be prevented???

Boo Boo
Boo B4 years ago

These schools are going overboard on this stuff. It should NOT take this long to reinstate her.

What THEY are doing is wrong. What she did was probably an assignment. Did anyone ELSE know that the thing would explode? no? well now we do and hurray to Kiera.

Vera Dixon
Laveria Dixon4 years ago

OMG!! We do not want to stifle our children and make them afraid to explore and experiment... that is how we have the electric lights, etc...