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Florida Teen Expelled and Arrested For Science Experiment

timothy posted about a year ago | from the government-schooling dept.

Education 1078

First time accepted submitter ruhri writes "A 16 year-old girl in Florida not only has been expelled from her high school but also is being charged as an adult with a felony after replicating the classic toilet-bowl cleaner and aluminum foil experiment. This has quite a number of scientists and science educators up in arms. The fact that she's African American and that the same assistant state attorney has decided not to charge a white teenager who accidentally killed his brother with a BB gun has some thinking whether this is a case of doing science while black."

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Florida (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608401)

South of the Mason-Dixon line. Need we know more?

If only the poor young lady had been doing a forensic chemistry experiment to validate the Shroud of Turin or the remains of Noah's Ark, I'm quite sure she wouldn't have run afoul of the law there.

Re:Florida (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608471)

You're an idiot.

Re:Florida (0, Flamebait)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#43608629)

You're an idiot.

Spoken, no doubt, by an anonymous coward from Dixie who just can't come to grips with the extent that racism still pervades The South. No, the idiots are the officials who are making this chickenshit case and ruining a young woman's life.

Re:Florida (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608681)

At least it wasn't "your an idiot".

Re:Florida (1)

Scragglykat (1185337) | about a year ago | (#43608703)

...idiot like a fox! Wait, that's not how that goes...

Re:Florida (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608561)

Sorry, but schools are run by bed wetting morons all over the country.

But you keep going with that shit because I believe we should clearly know who all the stupid fucking morons are.

Re:Florida (3, Insightful)

drakaan (688386) | about a year ago | (#43608723)

I'm thinking it has more to do with a heightened public sensitivity to bomb-making in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing...

Re:Florida (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608761)

Hey now, we disowned Florida a long time ago.

You stop holding the rest of the South accountable for Florida, and we'll forgive you for New Jersey.

Playing the race card again (4, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43608409)

There we go, playing the race card. Sigh. What does a kid with a BB gun have to do with this? Nothing, but it "creates the narrative". We all know what the narrative is, race race race. It's always first on the list and it always gets shoehorned in even if it doesn't belong. Everyone sees it but due to the mainstream media's gatekeeper role nobody can talk back. This is why Americans distrust the media, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. [gallup.com]

Re:Playing the race card again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608445)

If people would just play the grace card instead.

Re:Playing the race card again (5, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#43608447)

You could have responded without turning this into race rant yourself.

Re:Playing the race card again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608467)

Look, if there were no racism or at least perceived racism then how the hell would Democrat politicians get elected? We'd have a one-party system.

Re:Playing the race card again (5, Insightful)

martas (1439879) | about a year ago | (#43608515)

What does a kid with a BB gun have to do with this? Nothing, but it "creates the narrative".

Funny, if you drop the quotes, instead of "creating a narrative", the BB gun story actually creates a narrative. Namely a narrative where an ADA is out for blood in one instance of possibly reckless behavior from a child that didn't cause anybody any harm, but ignored another instance of possibly reckless behavior from a child that resulted in the loss of life. Whether this has anything to do with race is of secondary importance. The primary issue is the apparent lack of consistency in the severity of prosecution from this ADA.

Re:Playing the race card again (3, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43608525)

There we go, playing the race card.

Um yeah? That's the whole fucking point.

If you look at any of the myriad statistics linked from the articles the system is incredibly, systematically racist.

What does a kid with a BB gun have to do with this?

Because the DA was the same. Apparently that was a tragic accident but this is a serious felony.

Re:Playing the race card again (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608601)

If you look at any of the myriad statistics linked from the articles the system is incredibly, systematically racist.

Or African-Americans have a shared culture that glorifies violence and celebrates street crime/being a thug, causing them to commit more violent crimes. Most human beings of any color have difficulty resisting the influence of a poisonous culture. The silly, stupid, moronic War on Some Drugs is where nearly all of the arrests of non-violent people are coming from.

Because the DA was the same. Apparently that was a tragic accident but this is a serious felony.

This should go nowhere because there was no criminal intent. This student did not intend to damage anything or hurt anyone. Far as I know, nothing was damaged and no one was hurt. If we are going to have Prohibition against "unauthorized chemical reactions" just like we do against "altering your consciousness in unauthorized ways" then let's call it what it is.

Re:Playing the race card again (2)

thewolfkin (2790519) | about a year ago | (#43608665)

Or African-Americans have a shared culture that glorifies violence and celebrates street crime/being a thug, causing them to commit more violent crimes. Most human beings of any color have difficulty resisting the influence of a poisonous culture.

While we appear to be on the same side regarding the instance cited in the article, and since this doesn't appear to have been posted facetiously, I know a lot of people who would disagree with this statement. In the first place where you see a shared culture of violence others would see a shared culture of persecution.

Re:Playing the race card again (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#43608539)

Proportionality. That's what the kid with a BB gun has to do with this. An accidental death caused by a white boy gets no punishment. An accidental chemical hazard that kills no one, but is caused by a black girl gets charged with felonies. That's disproportionate. What exactly is the non-racist explanation for that lack of proportionality?

Gateway drugs (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43608689)

What exactly is the non-racist explanation for that lack of proportionality?

Think "war on drugs" logic. This chemistry experiment ended up producing what is technically an improvised explosive device, and IEDs like this are a "gateway drug" of sorts to IEDs that terrorists have used within the past month to kill or maim dozens of people.

Re:Playing the race card again (5, Funny)

CaseCrash (1120869) | about a year ago | (#43608713)

Proportionality. That's what the kid with a BB gun has to do with this. An accidental death caused by a white boy gets no punishment. An accidental chemical hazard that kills no one, but is caused by a black girl gets charged with felonies. That's disproportionate. What exactly is the non-racist explanation for that lack of proportionality?

Maybe they're just sexist?

Re:Playing the race card again (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43608745)

Panic of school bombings is a much more likely explanation.

Re:Playing the race card again (5, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43608623)

I used to dismiss things like "driving while black" until, after a fracas about one such incident in New Jersey, several NJ state troopers came forward and said that it was "unofficial" policy. It's also been statistically documented. If I knew I was more likely to get pulled over because of the color of my skin, I'd be damn resentful for the rest of my life. Want an ever better example? Check out the racial stats on Mayor-for-life "Bill of Rights No Longer Applies" Bloomberg's stop and frisk police state program. Also, given how absurd the government's reaction is, I don't blame anyone for playing the race card or using any other trick to do something about this. I thought it was a temporary suspension, which is no big deal, but apparently she "will be forced to complete her diploma through an expulsion program". WTF? Given the absurdity of "zero tolerance" (aka "zero brains") policies, the principal may have little choice. He did say she meant no harm. But being charged with a felony? WTF? Nobody was hurt. Nobody was likely to be hurt. Schoolyard fights have bigger physical consequences. Since the state has prosecutorial discretion, forget any nonsense about them not having any choice. If I'd been prosecuted this way for some of the "experiments" my brothers and I did as teenagers, I'd be doing life.

Re:Playing the race card again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608625)

I hate people playing the race card as much as anyone, and I think racism continues to exist at least in part because of abuse of the same. But that's not the case here. If TFA is accurate, what happened here was a gross injustice and needs to be exposed.

Re:Playing the race card again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608731)

I'm sorry for your inconvenience. Having to read about the race card yet again. Life must be so rough for you.

Forget about race. This is a kid that is bizarrely being charged and expelled. It affects her academic prospects, her life, her family, perhaps her future career. Good on her if using race shames the school and police and draws attention to their poor judgement.

this is sad, just sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608411)

I thought people involved in educational process are better than this...

Re:this is sad, just sad... (2)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43608637)

As a rule...mostly no.

Re:this is sad, just sad... (2, Insightful)

xclr8r (658786) | about a year ago | (#43608643)

When you have zero tolerance policies then rightly or wrongly administrators and educators think they have no agency in the matter. Also educators don't have control of the police force they have welcomed into their own school. *DA's and AGs are political animals in "some" cases and this is just a stepping stone to bigger things so riding rough trod over people's lives will not be swayed.

Re:this is sad, just sad... (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#43608657)

I thought people involved in educational process are better than this...

The teachers often are. The administrators, no. Most teachers care about the kids, while the administrators tend to be risk-averse bureaucrats who find it easier to hide behind a rule book than to make tough decisions.

Lets not (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608413)

Lets not attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity.

And in this case, I hardly believe its about one being black,although it could play a part, it beingthe us,it seems more a thing about one being gun related and the other science related.

We all know what many americans hate most.

Re:Lets not (4, Insightful)

T.E.D. (34228) | about a year ago | (#43608557)

I'd like to believe that too. I really would.

So explain to me how a white teenager who shoots and kills his brother doesn't deserve to be charged with anything, while the same prosecutor decides that a black teenager who didn't injure anyone needs an adult felony conviction to show her that "there are consequences to actions.".

Perhaps they aren't being racist on purpose, but that's hardly a consolation to the student. Sufficently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

Re:Lets not (1, Insightful)

iRommel (1684036) | about a year ago | (#43608607)

I think you need to take a step back and remember the guy who killed his brother did it with a presumably legal BB gun, you know, that shit that fires 6mm plastic bullets? This girl essentially made an IED. Colour has bugger all to do with any of this, don't understand why it's even brought up. That being said, I ran around playing war games as a teen and made plenty of those "bombs" and still turned out OK. :p

Re:Lets not (5, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43608721)

This girl essentially made an IED.

If you think mixing toilet cleaner and aluminum foil is essentially making an IED, then you'd be perfect for a modern school's zero-tolerance enforcement officer. Personally I'd go for the potassium permanganate and glycerine experiment, or dropping metallic sodium into water. I suppose they qualify as WMD's.

Re:Lets not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608727)

What you're talking about is an airsoft gun, not a BB gun. BBs are metallic, usually steel and often coated with copper or zink. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BB_gun [wikipedia.org]

The gun in the incident was a Daisy Powerline 880S, which is an airgun that can take up to 10 pumps of air to power it. With 10 pumps it can easily kill a rabbit (which I've already done before) or a cat; it's not surprising it could also kill a 10-year-old kid.

Airsoft guns are meant to be fired at other people in fun. BB guns are not.

Re:Lets not (3, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#43608673)

Speaking of double standards, I think it's rather unfair to jump to the conclusion that the DA charged her because she's black. You'd need to show a history of bias to make an insinuation like that less than libelous. The Huffington Post op-ed [huffingtonpost.com] makes loud protestations that it's not accusing anyone of anything, which might be enough to avert a libel charge. It does fall far short of decency, though. Mr. Lava makes no attempt to consider other possible differences between the cases of the white boy and the black girl, like the age difference between the kids or the fact that the BB gun accident happened at home and the chemistry accident happened at school.

Re:Lets not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608677)

it seems more a thing about one being gun related and the other science related.

So you think that science experiments should receive punishments and gun crimes should receive slaps on the wrist?

Re:Lets not (5, Insightful)

thewolfkin (2790519) | about a year ago | (#43608747)

Lets not attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity.

And in this case, I hardly believe its about one being black,although it could play a part, it beingthe us,it seems more a thing about one being gun related and the other science related.

We all know what many americans hate most.

While there is a theory for that, it doesn't line up with the statements released. They're specifically citing the dangerous nature of the girls activities and the hallowed ground aspects of a school along with actions need consequences. I'm all for punishing the girl. Having actually read a few of the articles she did something stupid. Detention would be light. A suspension for a few days should be the most she gets in my opinion. Expulsion and charges are extremely overboard and charging her as an adult comes out of nowhere, considering both the lack of malice, the lack of injury, and uprightness of the accused. She didn't run away she was there when they came for her and owned up for her actions. She had support from students, teachers, and the principal directly. If this isn't a case for SOME sort of leniency what is?

I don't think that this is race related (5, Informative)

jessecurry (820286) | about a year ago | (#43608415)

I don't think that this is race related, I think that the punishment is so harsh because everyone is scared of improvised explosive devices after Boston. When I first heard the story it was reported as "An Acid Bomb was Set Off At a Local High School".

Where (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608417)

Where is cowboy neal when you need him :'(

Public schools have morphed into (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#43608421)

Jails for the mind. NCLB has ruined education, by far GWB worst piece of policy. That coupled with "zero tolerance" which equates to "no thinking by staff" we are ruining a generation of kids. Teaching to tests, which NCLB does prohibits this kind of "thinking" to experiment.

I'd have a rap sheet a mile long if I was in school and I only graduated 14y ago. And I didn't even do anything bad!

Re:Public schools have morphed into (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608491)

Mental Anarchy, free your mind. [mentalanarchy.com] Ho Ho Ho.

Re:Public schools have morphed into (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about a year ago | (#43608521)

That coupled with "zero tolerance" which equates to "no thinking by staff" we are ruining a generation of kids.

At least we are teaching them that those with authority and political power are not to be trusted.

Re:Public schools have morphed into (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43608767)

At least we are teaching them that those with authority and political power are not to be trusted.

An excellent practical lesson for anybody, and especially those few Americans who still believe in the Spirit of 1776.

Re:Public schools have morphed into (2)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about a year ago | (#43608547)

"Teaching to test"

It has been the norm of most East Asian countries. I have been there. GWB thinks we need to learn from them, so he just carbon-copy the policy over to here.

Re:Public schools have morphed into (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43608701)

Perhaps you could enlighten us as to just how a program that holds schools accountable contributed to this particular event?

But, yes Zero Tolerance is the worst idea ever. They pay administrators a shit ton of money and they should be making the tough decisions and standing by them.
Ex: A butter knife placed in a students lunch box by Mom vs a gang banger carrying a switchblade.

Knee Jerk Yoyo (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608423)

School authorities in Florida have always been on the retarded side of the coin. Suspending or expelling kids for this kind of thing is really disgusting. God it is depressing. I went to school in Florida and was lucky that most of my teachers were good at their jobs. But those above teachers in the school food chain are some of the worst creeps you could ever imagine.

Thats stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608425)

You can do the same explosion using baking soda and vinegar.

The only reason there is an explosion is the closed container.

Good! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608433)

That's what she gets for acting white.

Racist a little? (0)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#43608441)

This is the same state who threw out votes from African Americans, clearly Florida is just a Racist state. I think the state motto should be "White is right".

America has become pussy nation (5, Insightful)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about a year ago | (#43608449)

America is a bunch of pussies now. Had something like this happened in the 50s-80s..maybe even the 90s, the result would have been a stern reprimand and at most a couple days suspension. This "Daddy" syndrome needs to end. I doubt even the French would freak out the way the school and DA have.

Re:America has become pussy nation (0)

arfonrg (81735) | about a year ago | (#43608487)

Since I have no mod points I'll give you virtual mod points.... +1 for you.

Re:America has become pussy nation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608531)

Completely agree.

Re:America has become pussy nation (5, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about a year ago | (#43608575)

Actually, I suspect if this had happened 20 to 30 years ago, there would not even have been a reprimand for performing the experiment, rather using said experiment (if it was considered a failure), as a learning experience to figure out where the student went wrong.

At most, I would have been yelled at for not using a fume closet...

Hell, I went to school in South Africa in the late 80's early 90's.... our science labs had green and black marks all over the ceiling from various "failed" but awesome experiments :)

Re:America has become pussy nation (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43608719)

I think you're a bit off. My 11th grade chemistry teacher (this was in the 90s) had everyone in his class build these and we set them off in a field in the back of the school. We tested different cleaners and types of aluminum to see which gave the best boom... we crumpled the aluminum in different ways, used different kinds of bottles. Local news channel covered it, and the teacher setting off a cannon with hydrogen... also dropping eggs from the news helicopter, but that wasn't as exciting.

Weapon (3, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43608459)

So now anything that blows up is automatically a weapon? I hope their school buses don't run on gas or diesel engines, then they would have to charge all the bus drivers with bringing weapons to school every day.

This is almost as stupid as suspending a 7 year old for having a pastry that's vaguely gun-shaped.
http://www.loweringthebar.net/2013/03/pastry-gun.html [loweringthebar.net]

Re:Weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608647)

This reaction doesn't even blow up, looking at video's of similar experiments on youtube suggests that this was no more an explosive than the old "diet coke + mentos" trick.

Re:Weapon (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608757)

Oh sure, let the kid have his pastry, then the next thing you know, he's lunging at you with a banana.

"science experiment" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608469)

Reading the police report suddenly turns into "friend told this girl to mix the two and see what happens". "friend" then runs off. This wasn't a science fair, or a science experiment. it was "hey yall watch this" in a school. No article mentions it was at an actual science fair, she just inserted the word into her statement.

Re:"science experiment" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608513)

I was a bit hasty, she brought the stuff from home, says "friend" helped her mix it. "science experiment" should read "science fair experiment"

Re:"science experiment" (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43608707)

That still is not a felony.

That is kids being kids. When I was in high school we did things that would now have kids arrested as terrorists.

Every boy used to do this (5, Interesting)

yog (19073) | about a year ago | (#43608483)

When I was in school, it was basically a full time job for many of us boys to figure out ways to make ever larger and more dramatic explosions happen. We used to fill trash bags full of methane from the lab, seal them with tape, then release them with a lit fuse and watch this huge fireball in the sky (I stopped before the principal took notice, so I didn't get caught:). I mean, kids just do stuff like that.

The difference today is the zero-tolerance rules in many public schools where even a little 6-year-old boy making a shape of a gun with his hand and going "bang!" at another kid is grounds for suspension.

As usual, bureaucracy gets it wrong. That girl should be reinstated and an apology should be issued, otherwise she'll be barred for life from many professions (albeit, as a minor theoretically her record is sealed, but in reality she's screwed).

And racism? That was just an extra little tidbit the OP added to spice things up. Ridiculous.

Re:Every boy used to do this (5, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about a year ago | (#43608591)

She is being tried as an adult, as such, the records will not be sealed. She is unfortunately fucked for life if she is found guilty...

And I really hope that whatever judge gets this case, tosses it out for stupidity reasons, and bitch slaps the educational establishment for this travesty.

Re:Every boy used to do this (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about a year ago | (#43608771)

The thing that worries the crap out of me is that the kids we are runing through this robot factory will (despite our best efforts) grow up one day and be running this country. If they get used to thinking that the relationship between people and authority figures should be one of unconditional one-way obediance to "the rules", what can we expect when they all become the cops and lawyers and judges? What kind of future society are we making for ourselves?

What science? (5, Insightful)

Keith Mickunas (460655) | about a year ago | (#43608493)

Was this really a science experiment? She was mixing household chemicals in a plastic bottle on school property. It had nothing to do with her science class. It's more likely she got this stuff out of the janitor's closet or something like that. It sounds more like a kid being stupid rather than one experimenting.

Not that I agree with the penalty in any way. Detention or suspension would be ok here since no real harm came from it. It doesn't merit police involvement, or comparison to an accidental shooting.

Re:What science? (5, Insightful)

ozydingo (922211) | about a year ago | (#43608641)

On the one hand, you're right, and calling it a "science project" and a s"science fair experiment" is playing with language.

On the other hand, since when should science encompass things only inside science class? Whether the experiment was "does the explosion really happen?" (as claimed), or "how will people react to this awesome explosion" (also likely), it's still no stretch to call it science. So the one thing I disagree with you on is this apparent dismissal.

But, I think overall you and I are in agreement. In my view there is are appropriate and inappropriate place to do such an experiment where you have an idea that the result might be something like an explosion. Maybe doing this type on one's own on school grounds is inappropriate -- though I'm sure there are arguments to be made on both sides for that statement. But does it deserve zero-tolerance, expulsion, and a criminal charge of a 15-year-old as an adult? I can't imagine anyone would think so (though, apparently, some do...)

Was it really a felony? (4, Informative)

transporter_ii (986545) | about a year ago | (#43608653)

No. Apparently they have charged rape suspects as Juveniles in that area, but a good student who hurt nobody will be tried as an adult??? It will never drop off her record. Freaking insane.

There is a petition to get the charges dropped and it has well over 10k signatures already:

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-bartow-police-and-bartow-high-school-drop-charges-against-kiera-wilmot?share_id=dFwlXuyxHk&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition [change.org]

Re:What science? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43608753)

Also this:

The other most common question about her story is what kind of chemicals she was mixing. Lauderdale says she doesn't know.

Yeah, science experiment my singed eyebrows. Stupid kid does stupid thing, tries to weasel out of it, as kids (and weasels) do. Happens to be black.

Re:What science? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43608755)

So what?

As you stated this is not a felony, it is kids being kids. Had a white child done this do you really think this DA would be going forward with these charges?

Dear America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608495)

You seriously need to get rid of this stupidity, lest you some day become irrelevant.

Regards

Desctructive device? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608499)

Only an idiot could call a plastic bottle Drano bomb a "destructive device". They normally produce no fragments and the blast power is a little over a big firecracker.

More likely "Zero Tolerance" gone insane, again. (5, Interesting)

RevDisk (740008) | about a year ago | (#43608505)

Zero Tolerance means zero intelligence. Circumstances are always different. Thanks to our wonderful school and legal systems, there's less discretion. The bad and good part of discretion is bias. A straight-A good kid will be given the benefit of a doubt over a kid that has a reputation for being a troublemaker. On one hand, it's possibly a good rule of thumb... but it can lead to folks getting railroaded unfairly.

The "solution" then is to treat EVERYONE badly. I'm not that old, and my school had a policy of "both kids in a fight get punished." Didn't matter if you got jumped for being a geek with pacifist philosophy. OTOH, it was a learning experience about bureaucracy, government and pacifism. I dumped the pacifism, and the next kid that jumped me, I earned every ounce of my administrative punishment because I had no incentive NOT to do so. Zero tolerance and "everyone involved is equally guilty" is bunk, and a bad idea.

a chemical explosion in a school bathroom is ok? (4, Interesting)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about a year ago | (#43608509)

I clicked the link already angry at what I expected to find - a story about an ignorant, probably racist bureaucrat ruining a smart kid's life for no good reason.

But as someone who (as a kid) did more than my share of disruptive, loud, messy things, I can tell you that even before 9/11 and IEDs and "zero tolerance" doing this in a school bathroom would have resulted in punishment. This wasn't a classroom experiment - no teachers were aware of it - and, like it or not, Drano (or an equivalent toilet cleaner) is a pretty harsh chemical.

This won't be a popular post, but I don't think the story lives up to the headline.

Re:a chemical explosion in a school bathroom is ok (5, Insightful)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about a year ago | (#43608597)

Not many are saying that punishment isn't warranted. The problem is that the police were involved at all, that's the ridiculous part. Frankly if the police and DA have time to get involved in this sort of thing layoffs are long past due in this district.

Re:a chemical explosion in a school bathroom is ok (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#43608613)

No one is saying it's OK. We're saying it's not a felony. Make the kid clean up the mess and suspend her for a week. Problem solved.

Excessive criminalization is a much bigger threat to us all than kids with drano bombs.

Re:a chemical explosion in a school bathroom is ok (0)

Splab (574204) | about a year ago | (#43608627)

To be honest I think she deserves to be expelled and while felony charge might be a bit harsh, it damned well should be illegal and carry punishment. Those bombs are fucking dangerous - when they go off, you have acid going in all directions - yeah, you might not kill people, but it will take your eyes out...

Re:a chemical explosion in a school bathroom is ok (5, Informative)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about a year ago | (#43608645)

I see no mention in the article about a bathroom; it was outside near a gazebo and she stated that she was doing a science fair experiment.

Re:a chemical explosion in a school bathroom is ok (1)

ozydingo (922211) | about a year ago | (#43608715)

she stated that she was doing a science fair experiment

And you believe that claim because...?

(Not that I agree with the school & police reaction, but that doesn't mean I'm going to suspend criticism on either side)

Re:a chemical explosion in a school bathroom is ok (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a year ago | (#43608669)

It would have resulted in a *proportional* punishment. As a teenager I improvised something far more spectacular and got caught (it was kind of obvious who did it - enormous bang followed by four teenagers running away from the sound source just as a teacher left the chemistry block). I was shouted at and IIRC got a detention for it. No suspension. No life-ruining felony prosecution.

What this girl is getting is grossly and obscenely disproportionate. Even if she's acquitted of felony charges, it is grossly unjust that she was ever dragged through the court system for this.

Country of Stupid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608523)

This stupid country is producing a generation of stupid kids, cowering and fearing the government, doing only as told.

She made a bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608527)

What if her "science experiment" involved a pressure cooker?

This is simply stupid... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608529)

This is simply stupid. And lazy on the part of the school, staff, and teachers.
Is there a reason they can't just talk to the girl and redirect her energy and curiosity to something beneficial?

An adult felony charge (not a conviction) will never come off of her record and always interfere with her ability
to seek the type of employment she may want in her future.

IMHO, her parents should push for a jury trial because I can pretty much guarantee the prosecutor(s) will push for
a guilty plea with probation and "threaten" her or her parents with jail time if they don't agree. Now, the jury should
find that the facts satisfy the legal requirements for a guilty verdict, but nullify the law in this case. This is the only
country in the world that has this legal system, but jurors are often intimidated as to their rights and responsibilities
under the law by the very judges that serve them (yes, in the U.S. the judge "works" for the jurors, but judges often
forget this minor fact).

If it we possible, the jurors should indict the arresting officer for terroristic threats against the girl, but that's wishful
thinking on my part...

Read the police report (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608541)

http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2013/05/florida_school_responds_to_cri.php?page=2

Sounds like the science teacher sold her our by claiming "NO WAY WAS WILMOT'S ACTIONS PART OF ANY CLASS WORK."
I still think criminal charges are overkill but expulsion from school for a few days is warranted. Unless it turns out the science teacher was just CYA and this really was some science project due in a few weeks and she wanted to show it off to friends first.

hindered learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608551)

If this is the case, then schools are going to have to stop teaching chemistry all together. Let's just cover everyone in a blanket of ignorance under the guise of safety and control by our wonderful government.

Not about race or science (2)

MikeRT (947531) | about a year ago | (#43608583)

The BB gun incident seems to have happened off of school property. If she did this at home the charges applied (explosives, dangerous toys, blah blah blah at school) would not have been applicable. The government's standard response with stuff involving schools and "danger" is "kill it with fire" to appease the parents who might freak out if something HAD happened and the few squeaky wheels who are such bed-wetters that they'll call into question the integrity, intelligence, etc. of people who "let this happen."

Oh no an energetic reaction at a science fair (2)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#43608589)

What next baking soda and vinegar gets a 6 months in juvie. Hydrogen filled balloons at least a year. Sodium your going down for life man. Please fire whatever school staff made this decision they are obviously incapable of rational thought, they claim it's a zero tolerance bs when the zero tolerance has a specific exception for scientific experiments.

I do really hope the judge dismisses the case with cause and send a nasty gram to the state bar.

Toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | about a year ago | (#43608605)

What experiment is this?

Sorry, I thought I had a reasonable science background in high school, but that was apparently too long ago for me to remember this experiment.

Can someone provide details? I'm a little cautious in having it show up in my Google history at the moment.

Three Minutes on Youtube... (4, Insightful)

bistromath007 (1253428) | about a year ago | (#43608609)

...tells me that it is massively unlikely this was intellectual curiosity. Some kid thought it would be funny to make a huge bang at a place where huge bangs are known to cause massive administrative overreaction.

When I first read this, I thought it was horrible. One of the articles linked in the story here called it a botched experiment. What kind of loony racist throws the book so hard at a kid who messed up a project? Then I went looking for the "experiment" and learned there was pretty much definitely nothing botched about this. Youtube is full of works bombs, which is apparently what these are called. A popular chemistry blog I stumbled into explains these are actually illegal to make. And I really don't see what else you could do with these components.

Now, this kid certainly doesn't deserve to be tried as an adult for multiple felonies just because they made a total dipshit choice that hurt nobody. But what's going on here is just usual-business prosecutorial excess, not racism. Ruining dumb high school kids' lives is practically what these fuckers live for lately, regardless of skin tone.

what makes it fun (4, Insightful)

SkunkPussy (85271) | about a year ago | (#43608611)

Its exactly that kind of stuff that got me into chemistry in the first place

What the hell... (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year ago | (#43608619)

...does someone accidentally killing someone with a BB gun, and someone dissolving Al in TBC have to do with each other? I haven't read the article, and I won't read the article, but come on. I don't even care about the merits of each case. Slashdot, you're treading on thin ice.

Re:What the hell... (2, Insightful)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#43608733)

They needed a "racist" slant on the article, so they found a completely unrelated incident where a white person did something "bad" and was not charged. The "obvious" conclusion therefore is that this teen's expulsion and arrest is CLEARLY motivated by racism, regardless of the details.

Great now everyone knows how to make a bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608631)

Sure, put it in the headlines, now people don't have to go out of their way to learn this shit, streisand effect, way to go assholes.

How can I contribute... (5, Interesting)

HagraBiscuit (2756527) | about a year ago | (#43608633)

How and where can I contribute to the legal costs for the family of this student? I want them to hire the best advocates money can provide, I want to see that judge humiliated for attempting to destroy the future of a curious student who made a mistake leading to an incident where no harm was either done or intended.

Soda Bottle Explosive Device (2)

twmcneil (942300) | about a year ago | (#43608651)

Once again, proof as to why Florida is the only state that has it's own Fark tag or needs it.

My kid was showing me last night how to squeeze an empty water bottle hard enough to make the cap pop off. It made a good pop and sent the cap across the kitchen. If he does that at his school will he be arrested and charged with detonating an explosive device? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

H1B (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608671)

We don't let our citizens learn about science, so we need more H1Bs please...

Brain dead school rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608683)

Hell, 40-something years ago, one of my *required* lab experiements involved introducing a lit match into a testtube full of hydrogen. That resulted in a loud bang (and nearly in wet pants). The rest of the class was not yet on that experiemnt, so nobody was expecting it, but there was not even a question from the teacher.

Sure, this may have been unauthorized, but the worst it merits is some form of suspension

Stupidity is a universal truth (1)

mastertigurius (929730) | about a year ago | (#43608687)

It seems like it's about every other week that I read about a girl in Florida that blows up a soda bottle in school, a boy in Kentucky shooting his sister,
or (in the news earlier today) a farmer in the Philippines accidentally killing his daughter while cleaning his shotgun, then turning the gun on himself.

Stupidity knows no borders or colors, and we're all sadly affected with it.

not a science experiment, not a felony either (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608691)

Look, this was not a science experiment or a science fair entry; this was some dimbulb mixing chemicals together to see what would happen. Charging her with a felony only compounds the stupidity. From the story, she mixed the chemicals near a school gazebo, which then blew up or banged or something drawing the attention of the school's security. Dumb to do, but then she decides to try playing the "it was for science" card, the security decides to charge her with a felony (wrong as well), and now she is playing the race card ("I would not have been charged if I were white".).

Dumb, dumb, dumb

Simple Chemistry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608693)

I hope their chemistry teacher has never put a chunk of potassium in water as a demonstration to students, otherwise they might be "discharging an explosive device" and "making a poor choice". Give me a break. The only thing this girl did wrong was fail to get permission for her experiment, but frankly, everyone should have to get permission for the science project they do so that an instructor can verify that they are doing something challenging enough and safe enough to qualify as a high school science project.

That said, I don't know if this is race-related so much as terrible schooling (which unfortunately correlates to race through economic conditions). Combine that with a DA who can't apply common sense and this girl's life is ruined.

A "science fair experiment"? (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#43608699)

So, I take it, since this was at school, she had adult supervision, and she'd confirmed the safety precautions were carried out.

So why did the supervisor not say anything? I mean there was one, right? She wasn't just blowing shit up for kicks?

No more volcanoes for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608705)

one year!

I'm glad I was a teen 20 years ago (4, Interesting)

hairykrishna (740240) | about a year ago | (#43608737)

I was far from a bad teenager. I loved science though and if it went bang that was all the better. Draino and aluminium foil? Jesus. I made fertiliser bombs. I synthesised Nitrogen triiodide and all manner of other fun compounds.

One bonfire night I once had a visit from the police due to my homemade titanium salutes. They were amused and told me not to blow my hands off. These days I'd go to jail for a million years.

Of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43608769)

Does it suprise anyone? We are increasingly becoming a more paranoid and demanding society. In this age of super paranoia and political gridlock, the easiest way to make it look like you are doing something about real problems, (IE: Gun control, gang violence, failing schools, crumbling infrastructure) is to take it out on people that have no ability to fight back. We are afraid of bombs after Boston, so an innocent experiment from a youth is seen as a potential terrorist in training. We are afraid of school violence, so we post a police officer in the school who manhandles this student. We are afraid of urban youth, so we throw them in jail at the first reason we are given. We fear failing grades, so the fact she was experimenting on her own is seen as a sign that she was wasting time instead of a sign that she has a vest for learning.

Of course this isn't surprising, or shocking. This is exactly what we have designed schools to be over the last 15 years.

Highschool students can't vote, so it okay for us to subject them to ridiculous crap. Zero Tolerance sounds great on paper, but in effect it criminalizes youthful behavior, and in this case educational curiosity. I am sure that if this student was not in an urban highschool, and that her pigmentation was a different hue, this would have been written off as a prank at worst, or an experiment gone wrong at best. The school's reasoning for expulsion being that this event caused undue distraction is another example. No Child Left Behind has turned schools into prisons for the mind. The fact this event distracted students was seen as more of an educational problem than the fact this poor student will be stripped of her chance at a real education by being summarily expelled. Because what the school cares about is less the wellbeing of a single child and more the well being of a test average. God forbid the students are not in their seats, eyes forward for the entire duration of class. Because as we all know, major distracting events are never likely to happen in the real world, and of course we should not discuss them.

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