Kiera Wilmot, 16, was eagerly testing out a possible experiment for the science fair. As any curious young Einstein might do, she tried something new, but when things went boom, the experiment lead to her expulsion from school and felony charges. In a JET exclusive, Kiera shared her thoughts the same day the district attorney’s office sensibly decided to drop all charges. She and her family are still hoping the school also reverses it’s harsh stance and allows the high school junior back where she belongs—in her classroom laboratory.
JET: Please tell us about your interest in science.
Kiera: I love science and technology and I especially love dealing with robotics. In fact, I want a job in STEM education or a career as a technology engineer. My favorite academic class is chemistry. In middle school I was introduced to robotics and was on the Robotics team. I also mentored kids in the gifted and talented program for Robotics.
JET: Have you conducted other science experiments in the past?
Kiera: Yes I have. I did one every year since 5th grade, I think. My favorite one consisted of a bottle of water with a clay lid. The clay lid had a hole in it. When the bottle was turned upside down, no water came out through the hole, but when the bottle was swirled around the water came out in a whirlpool-like stream.
JET: How did you come to conduct the experiment that resulted in the current situation?
Kiera: The teacher gave an assignment to do a science project in biology, chemistry, physics, etc. The experiment was to be a volcano, similar to the 5th grade level baking soda and vinegar volcano. It would fizz and flow, like a shaken soda bottle.
JET: What was the result of the experiment?
Kiera: A chemical reaction where the bottle expanded, the cap came off, with a pop sound and a puff of smoke.
JET: What were some of the reactions that followed?
Kiera: I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting a sound like a pop of a firecracker. The principal and assistant principal came over and I told them what happened.
JET: What did you think as the situation became more involved?
Kiera: When I was called down to the discipline office I was thinking, “It’ll be okay. Maybe they will understand it was an accident.” Then when I was told I was going to get expelled. I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do? What will my mom think?” Then when I was told I am going to be arrested I was crying and thinking, “This is going to ruin my life! I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY!” I was very scared. I knew I was in trouble, but I didn’t think it was that bad.
JET: Do you think the reactions by some people send a bad message to young scientists?
Kiera: Yes, because after this I have decided if I have any science projects in my senior year or during college the only chemical reactions that happen involving me would be my food and stomach acid. I feel a future scientist would find a cure for cancer, yet the cure will never be exposed to the public because the one with the knowledge is rotting in a jail cell.
JET: Many scientists have expressed their support for you and shared their stories of experiments gone wrong. What do you think of that?
Kiera: These scientists encourage me to continue to be who I am… A scientist.