Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Curiosity and the Cat…

A Florida teen was expelled and charged with a felony after a science project she was working on led to what Riptide, a news blog at the Miami New Times, describes as a "tiny pop and a small amount of smoke." No one was injured and there was no damage.

Kiera Wilmot, a 16-year-old student at Bartow High School, was known to have a good record, and the principal there, Ron Pritchard, said Wilmot "is a good kid," according to Tampa Bay's News 10.

"She made a bad choice," Pritchard said, adding that "she wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did." Riptide adds that she mixed toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil in a plastic water bottle.

Wilmot is to be tried as an adult on charges of possessing/discharging a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. The school district adds that she was expelled as students need to know "there are consequences to their actions," according to Riptide

At Southern Fried Science, Andrew David Thaler wonders if responses like that will stifle scientific curiosity. "Many young scientists have a brush with danger due to a combination of curiosity and experimentation," he writes. "High school programs should be nurturing that curiosity and fostering responsible experimentation, not punishing it."

Thaler also asked Twitter followers, many of whom he says are current scientists, whether they had had any such lab mishaps in high school. He has a Storify of their responses. For example, @rasliche tweeted: "Launched rocket in hs that tipped after igniting, shot at class, hit building window. No damage, but def not safe. Got A+."

While Daily Scan never caused the sprinklers to go off, there was a harrowing incident with some ethidium bromide.