By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A suspicious school project triggered a call for explosives experts at Arden Fair Mall when bystanders spotted a strange device in the front seat of a pickup truck.

Witnesses contacted security after seeing a wooden box with four Vitamin Water bottles attached via tubes and wires to some sort of compressor.

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Police sealed off a perimeter around the area while they notified the bomb squad. While investigators took a look at the device, Arden Fair Mall security officers used surveillance footage to track down the driver of the vehicle.

“The vehicle was locked, the plates came up as out of the city,” said Arden Fair Mall security director Steve Reed.

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Just before the bomb squad broke through the windows, the driver was identified as a college student who works part time at the mall.

The student described the contraption to officers, saying he was getting graded on how well it could mix drinks.

“He was very embarrassed, was apologetic, because it did tie up police resources,” said Sacramento Police Sgt. Norm Leong.

No charges were filed for what authorities described as an honest mistake, but they did require the student to demonstrate the device.

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“Obviously, the officers wanted him to make a drink,” Reed said.