Bartow, Florida - Kiera Wilmot mixed toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum in a bottle before classes last month at Bartow High. The cap blew off with a sharp pop and there was some smoke. No one was hurt.
But this bottle blow up -- which Wilmot characterized as a science experiment -- has blown up on various website headlines.
The "explosive science experiment" is outlined on Huffington Post and Slate proclaims "Felony Science."
And the American Civil Liberties Union is asking whether curiosity should be a crime. "People are concerned about the harshness of it," says Joyce Hamilton Henry, the Director of the ACLU Mid-Florida Regional Office, referring to Wilmot's punishment.
Wilmot was expelled from Bartow High and served a 10-day suspension before going back to class at the Bill Duncan Opportunity Center, an alternative high school for students with behavior problems.
Wilmot was also arrested last month as a juvenile and charged with discharging a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device-both felonies. And the State Attorney's Office is still weighing possible adult felony charges.
Those possible criminal charges have spurred people from across the country to sign online petitions on the website Change.org. One petition asking the State Attorney to drop all charges has more than 180,000 supporters.
And in this case, Henry is not surprised by the outpouring of outrage.
"They know she did this in school, yes. But there was no harm done. She didn't intend to cause any harm. As the school indicated, this is a good student. She has not gotten into any trouble in the past. Then why go to the extreme of charging her?" asks Henry.
Wilmot could also face more discipline by the school district, which contends her actions clearly violate the student code of conduct. However, before taking any more action, district officials are waiting for the State Attorney's decision.
So it remains to be seen if this water bottle explosive blows up a young woman's future.
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