Remember Kiera Wilmot, the 16-year old Florida student who was arrested and expelled after accidentally causing an explosion on school grounds? Well, not only has she been cleared of criminal charges, but now she'll be going to NASA's Space Camp courtesy of a kickass NASA employee.
As it turns out, Homer Hickman, the 18-year NASA veteran paying her way, found himself in a similar situation back in his school years. He was accused of a starting a forest fire, and like Wilmot, was led out of his school in handcuffs. Eventually he was cleared of the charges, but since schools did not have zero-tolerance policies back then he was never expelled and it did not affect his academic career.
Realizing the situation she was put in and how much his career could have been ruined by that kind of response, he sprung into action. "I couldn't let this go without doing something," Hickam said. "I'm not a lawyer, but I could give her something that would encourage her. I've worked closely with the U.S. Space Academy, and so I purchased a scholarship for her." Wilmot (and her twin sister) will be attending in July. So while the school is pondering whether to stick to their decision, she'll be hanging out in zero-gravity tanks and going on simulated trips to Mars like all those winners on old Nickelodeon game shows.
Score one for sanity and allowing kids to be flawed human beings and to make mistakes while navigating their paths to adulthood (and becoming awesome scientists). As Neil DeGrasse Tyson would say, "Kids are never the problem. They are born scientists. The problem is always the adults. They beat the curiosity out of kids."
So hey adults: