As the tale of Kiera Wilmot -- the Bartow, Florida student expelled and charged with two felonies over a science project gone wrong -- went viral yesterday, a wide movement to support the 16-year-old blossomed from blogs to radio shows to Change.org petitions. Best of all, though, has been a Twitter campaign by scientists and science fans with a simple premise: writing about the craziest stuff they've blown up over the years, all in the name of science.
The difference, of course, is that they were congratulated on their curiosity or slapped on the wrist, not hit with life-altering felonies.
Wilmot was booted from school and criminally charged last week after mixing toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil in a plastic bottle on school grounds, despite the fact that no one was hurt and she told her principal she was conducting a "science fair experiment."
The details of the case have led to an outcry from science educators, particularly because Wilmot was apparently a good student with a good behavior record and because she's a young black woman -- a demographic severely underrepresented in the science world.
The campaign to support her may well have started with an eloquently furious blog from DNLee, a biologist who writes for Scientific American. She writes about the race aspects of Wilmot's case and then notes another important fact: Anyone with any scientific curiosity has had some experiments go wrong.
I can't name a single scientist or engineer, who hadn't blown up, ripped apart, disassembled something at home or otherwise cause a big ruckus at school all in the name of curiosity, myself included. Science is not a clean. It is very messy and it is riddled with mistakes and mishaps.
Andrew Thaler, a deep-sea biologist in North Carolina who writes as "Southern Fried Scientist," then challenged his Twitter followers to share tales of their own mishaps that went unpunished, with a #KieraWilmot tag.
What do you say, Miami? Ever blown anything up for science? Tell us about it in the comments or tweet @miaminewtimes with the tag #kierawilmot.
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