A few weeks ago, a Florida high school student named Kiera Wilmot got in trouble for conducting a science experiment involving aluminum foil and toilet bowl cleaner in a water bottle on school grounds. Her experiment was hardly a bomb, but officials applied the usual ludicrous zero tolerance policy — not only was she expelled from school, but she faced felony charges for possessing a weapon on campus and discharging a destructive device.
It reminded Homer Hickam of the kind of trouble he got into as a kid. Homer wrote a book about his days as a young rocket enthusiast called “Rocket Boys,” which became a movie titled “October Sky,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. His youthful science fun led him to a career as a NASA engineer, and when he heard about Kiera, he decided to help her out.
Today on my America Weekend show, Homer explained what he did for her, why her story touched a nerve, and why schools shouldn’t treat students’ curiosity as criminal. We also discussed Homer’s new novel, “Crescent.”