2 May 2013

Kiera Wilmot- You are MY Hero! (UPDATED) (Update Two)

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Update Two:
Homer Hickam the real person behind October Sky has joined us in supporting Kiera: Hat tip to Astronomer Pamela Gay for the tip:

I had a very nice email from Marie Wilmot (Kiera’s Mom) today. It seems that the school board has relented, and Keiera will be allowed back to High School next year. The State’s Attorney has offered a deal but their attorney Larry Hardaway has rejected it because it still contains felony charges. There is a legal defense fund set up and the details from Marie are as follows:

We have set up an account at Fifth Third Bank, named, “Kiera Wilmot Defense Fund”.  Kiera’s attorney, Mr. Larry Hardaway, has confirmed one legitimate online account, I don’t remember the website, but it wasn’t indiegogo.  I started setting up an indiegogo account, as I was in the process, I noticed two others, the attorney was unaware of those two, I will contact the creators and see what their intentions are with the funds raised from these accounts. The  indiegogo account created by me, Marie Wilmot is ready for use. 

I made a mistake with chemicals in High School chemistry and started a small fire in a trash can. Fortunately, I wasn’t kicked out of school and threatened with a police record for life because my teacher had common sense. He knew that accidents happen, and true learning can sometimes bring surprises. All Kiera did was accidentally make the top of a bottle pop off.

Hang in there Kiera, a lot of science geeks have your back!

I’ve written about the failing of our educational system several times here, especially in regard to math and science. Todays news illustrates this failure better than anything. The only good news out of this is that a bright, inquisitive student whose science experiment went pop when she was not expecting it, will not have to be in that school system. Truly disgusting what happened to this poor girl, but I cannot fathom a jury convicting her.

In case you have not heard about it, check out The Physics Mill. Just know Kiera, that a lot of scientists (who are a whole lot smarter than those who expelled you) are on your side.

Update: Spotted this on Google Plus courtesy Jonah Miller, hopefully those who love science will let their voices be heard:

An Update On the Kiera Wilmot Case 

I recently posted (http://www.thephysicsmill.com/2013/05/01/social-activism-time/) about the plight of a teenager in Florida, Kiera Wilmot, who performed a science experiment which went badly. No one was hurt and no property was damaged, but she’s been expelled and she’s facing felony charges.

The case has been getting a lot of media attention, which is a really good thing, I think. Here’s some more reading material if you’re interested.
DNLee has posted twice on the issue on her Scientific American blog. Both posts are eloquent, enraged, and worth reading:

There’s also some discussion about what caused the expulsion.
Some cite zero-tolerance policies (http://madamenoire.com/275238/is-our-zero-tolerance-culture-behind-kiera-wilmots-heavy-handed-charges/) and some cite racism (http://newsone.com/2430066/kiera-wilmot-florida-science-experiment/). Both are probably factors.

What You Can Do

I’ve been trying to figure out what we can do to help Wilmot. Here are the suggestions I’ve seen around. I got all of these from DNLee’s article.

If you’re a scientist, tweet about the things you’ve blown up or broken in the name of progress using the, #ScienceIsNotCrime#KieraWilmot or#Solidarity4Wilmot hashtags.

Personally contact the local authorities.
Here’s the information:
Polk County Superintendent, Dr John Stewart.
Phone: 863-534-0521 Fax: 863-519-8231

Bartow High School Principal, Mr Ronald Pritchard.
Phone: 863-534-7400

Contact the Bartow Police Department
Phone: 863 534-5034 Fax: 863-534-5030
Email: lbryan.pd@cityofbartow

Sign the petition to drop charges, if you haven’t already.

Offer more
There’s not much else to do at the moment. But you can sign offer to help by filling out this form, organized by DNLee. As soon as she knows more about the situation, like how to contact the family, she’ll use the names here to figure out who to ask for help.
Here’s the form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1UQ-CQ8G5UlRrxbn5pxPzgm44EQstz25WGWICMQHuKAY/viewform

Permalink to this post on the physics mill:http://www.thephysicsmill.com/2013/05/03/an-update-on-kiera-wilmot/

Thanks for all you’re doing to help!