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Exploding Pumpkin Experiment Gone Very, Very Wrong Leads To Lawsuit

By Kate Shepherd in News on Oct 30, 2015 3:11PM

A pumpkin exploding in a science class at UIC College Prep last Halloween that reportedly sent three children to the hospital has now led to a lawsuit.

Bryanna Romero is suing the Near West Side school, part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, and chemistry teacher Cynthia Donati for at least $50,000 in damages for injuries she says she suffered, according to the Tribune.

In chemistry class on Oct. 31, 2014, Donati was attempting to mix boric acid and methanol inside a pumpkin to show students the effects of the combined chemicals, according to the lawsuit. The suit alleges that at some point during the experiment, there was an explosion and then 17-year-old Romero was injured.

On the day of the accident, WGN reported that three students were rushed to Stroger Hospital after the explosion. Two had minor chemical burns on their faces and the other experienced irritation to her eyes.

There are no details on the type or extent of Romero's injuries in the lawsuit.

A flash fire started when too much of one of the chemicals was added to the mix in the pumpkin and a hazardous materials situation was called at the scene, according to WGN.

The lawsuit alleges that Donati was negligent in mixing the wrong ratio of chemicals, in conducting the experiment too close to students and in failing to provide Romero with protective goggles (it says the school also did not provide her with goggles).