updated 11/4/2005 9:06:35 PM ET 2005-11-05T02:06:35

A bomb squad blew up a metal pipe that had a battery, wires, rope and an electrical switch, only to realize it was an eighth-grade science project.

“An electromagnetic fishing pole,” Allegheny County Bomb Squad Sgt. Robert Clark said, holding the contraption with the battery blown off.

A clerk found the device — made from 3 feet (1 meter) of half-inch metal pipe — near the greeting cards display at a drugstore Thursday.

Police Chief Roger Beadling said he got within six feet and decided not to take any chances. “It definitely appeared to be some kind of explosive device,” he said.

The bomb squad used a robot to examine the device, then destroyed it.

A 10th-grader at Frazier High School said the science project is something eighth-graders do every year. “You have to make it so it can pick up metal paper clips, but you can’t use magnets,” Tiffany Burton said. “I hated that project.”

Jim Shahan, owner of a pizza shop a few doors away, said had he seen the device, he might have saved everyone a few anxious hours.

“I just helped make one for my daughter,” he said.

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