Kiera Wilmot, the 16-year-old Florida student who was infamously expelled and arrested after her science experiment caused a small explosion, avoided felony charges, much to the relief of supporters around the country.
Now that the threat of criminal sanctions for the incident (which hurt no one and caused no damage) is behind her, she also has something to look forward to, according to Space Ref: a trip to the United States Advanced Space Academy, a branch of the famous Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. Her scholarship comes thanks to former NASA engineer Homer Hickam.
Hickam can relate to Wilmot’s story: In his memoir, Rocket Boys, which was the basis of the film October Sky, he chronicles his own experiments with scientific experimentation — including one incident that prompted the police to take him and his high school friends away in handcuffs.
Kiera has accepted Hickam’s scholarship offer. Kiera’s mother, Marie Wilmot, works at the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute (www.fipr.state.fl.us) and is excited that Kiera has been provided this opportunity. “Kiera is a bright, imaginative young lady who loves science, technology, engineering and math — and she also loves music and art. In today’s terminology, they would refer to it as STEAM, which is the STEM field with the arts added in. Kiera joined her middle school Robotics Team, which is where her love of robotics began. She is very excited at this opportunity and is intrigued by Mr. Hickam’s story. We have ordered the movie October Sky and will be checking out his books. She would like to speak with Mr. Hickam and would like to meet him in person someday.”
Hickam is delighted that Kiera will be going to the Space Academy which is internationally known for its educational programs. “I think she will feel right at home,” Hickam says, “because she will be with other students just like her who are intensely interested in science and space.”
Read more at Space Ref.