- Press Release
- May 26, 2023
Homer Hickam Supports High School Student Whose Science Project Got Her Expelled and Arrested
Homer Hickam, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie October Sky, has joined the ranks of scientists and engineers around the globe in support of Kiera Wilmot – the 16-year-old Florida student who found herself in hot water after her science experiment went awry.
Wilmot, who has an outstanding school record and whose mother works in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field, was expelled from school permanently and arrested by police after her science experiment caused a small explosion. Although not authorized by her teacher, no one was hurt in the incident and no damage was caused. Kiera was also charged with possession and discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device: both felonies.
Homer Hickam can relate to Kiera. In his famous memoir Rocket Boys, adapted into the film October Sky by Universal Studios, Hickam chronicled his own unauthorized experiments with rockets, including a scene where the police showed up at his high school to take him and his friends away in handcuffs.
After being made aware of Kiera’s similar situation, Hickam decided to take action by personally offering her a scholarship to the United States Advanced Space Academy. ASA is a branch of the famous Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama (www.spacecamp.com/camp/asa) and offers a college-accredited program through the University of Alabama in Huntsville that includes STEM education plus college and career preparation.
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.”
Kiera also has a twin sister, Kayla, who is an excellent student. While Mr. Hickam is able to provide a scholarship for Kiera, he is hopeful he can raise funds or a sponsor will step up to provide a second scholarship so that Kayla can also attend the Advanced Space Academy with her sister. The twins both share the same passion for education and exploration.
Hickam, a former NASA engineer turned best-selling author, has most recently written a series of novels for young adults set on the moon (www.helium3novels.com). Crescent, the next in the series, arrives on bookshelves May 28th. Hickam says, “In Crescent, the title character is a young woman who finds herself ostracized by others because she is different. In a way, Kiera is presented with a similar challenge, one that I’m certain she will overcome. One thing certain, I’m in her corner.”
To find out how you can contribute to the fund for Kayla, please visit our fundraising link at www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/kayla-wilmot-space-academy-scholarship.
100% of the donated funds will be given to the Wilmot family in aid of scholarship tuition, required transportation and supplies for the Academy.
Contact: Burke Allen (703) 589.8960