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Science experiment

Government finally drops felony charges against 16-year-old for conducting science experiment that produced a 'popping' sound

Saturday, June 01, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: science experiment, zero-tolerance policy, felony charges

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(NaturalNews) The absolute insanity surrounding public school policies these days regarding anything and everything remotely to do with violence - especially perceived violence - is nothing short of irrational hysteria.

This dysfunctional condition manifested itself recently in the case of Florida high school student Kiera Wilmot, 16, who had been charged by Florida authorities with dual felonies because her lab experiment made a loud noise.

According to the website PopSci.com, Wilmot's experiment involved mixing a household chemical with aluminum foil inside a water bottle, then placing a cap on the mixture in the hours before school began April 22. The experiment was conducted on the grounds of her public school in Bartow, Fla.

The report said Wilmot expected the reaction inside the bottle to create a small amount of smoke, "but instead the bottle popped with a firecracker-like sound and produced more smoke than anticipated."

'She's a good kid' - but not good enough, apparently

Despite the larger reaction, no one was injured and no school property was damaged, said the report. Nevertheless, overreacting school officials called police, who subsequently arrested the teenager for "possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds," and for "discharging a destructive device" (did I mention there was no destruction and that the mixture represented anything but a weapon?).

If convicted, Wilmot would have faced years in jail and would have had to finish high school in a juvenile detention facility, not to mention entering adulthood with a criminal record.

Prior to the incident, Wilmot had an exemplary school record of achievement; her principal had described her as a "good kid" and one sans any record of ever being in any kind of trouble.

As word of her story spread so too did the outrage, according to PopSci:

Her story set off a wave of criticism in the science community and led to an online petition supporting Wilmot-and encouraging scientific curiosity among American youth in general. Whether it was the public outrage or a bout of common sense that seized Florida's State Attorneys office, the felony charges have been dropped and Wilmot is free to continue being a high school student genuinely curious about science and the world around her.

'She didn't even run away'

The website reported that the petition garnered more than 195,000 signatures in an obvious sign that sanity exists in Florida, but it is well outside of the high school that Wilmot attends. Dave Mosher of PopSci explains:

"No one was hurt. No property was damaged. She didn't even run away. The principal's eyewitness account, along with those of Wilmot's friends and schoolmates, all suggest she was simply satisfying her curiosity on school property before classes began. ... Despite praising Wilmot as a 'good kid' who has 'never been in trouble before,' Polk County Public Schools trumpeted its zero-tolerance policies and called the police. They arrested Wilmot and charged her with two felonies."

There was obviously no criminal intent here, but "zero-tolerance" stupidity once again overrode the better judgment of educated individuals whom you would think had the brain power to decide what behavior truly is, and is not, worthy of "zero tolerance."

"Sure, dangerous behaviors deserve punishment. But it's time we stop creating and acting on zero-tolerance school policies to dole them out," writes Mosher. "We need to treat kids as kids and give them a fair shake by weighing context, reason, and maturity - not brand them as criminals when they create 'stinks and bangs,' either accidentally or intentionally, for experimentation's sake."

Exactly right. And while we're at it, let's stop sending grade-schoolers home for drawing pictures of cowboys and Indians, or soldiers, using guns.

Heaven forbid we teach them of the sometimes necessary - and legal - uses for a firearm.

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