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Science experiment gone awry prompts evacuation of Texas high school

By Greg Botelho, CNN
  • Galena Park High School students had been asked to bring in items for a 'how-to' project
  • Beaker smashed, fumes emitted after one student tries to demonstrate a chemical reaction
  • About 150 students evacuated, though there was no immediate sign any had gotten sick

(CNN) -- A high school science experiment gone awry sent fumes through a Texas classroom Thursday morning, prompting the evacuation of scores of students.

Students in the Galena Park High School class had been asked to bring in things as part of a "how-to" project, said Craig Eichhorn, a spokesman for the Galena Park Independent School District just east of Houston. One of the students intended to demonstrate how to create a chemical reaction, added Eichhorn, but "he did so incorrectly."

The student's beaker broke, releasing fumes in the classroom. The teacher promptly told the roughly 25 students in the class to leave, and the school's principal subsequently ordered the evacuation of all 150 students in the auxiliary building, which is outside the main high school, said Eichhorn.

A school nurse was checking all the students in the class, said Eichhorn, but there were no immediate indication that any had become sick from the fumes. School and fire authorities were still trying to determine, too, what chemicals were involved or released.

Members of the Galena Park fire department were at the scene, using fans to clear the air in the auxiliary building, said Eichhorn. Around noon, all 150 evacuated students were in the auditorium of the high school's main building.

"There are definitely lessons (to be) learned," said Eichhorn. "We're looking at how this experiment was allowed to commence, and to make sure it doesn't happen in the future."