Outreach and Education Division

    The EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIVISION supports chemistry education at all levels, including K-12, college, and adult/continuing education. It maintains liaisons to the Chicago Public Schools and the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT). The Division engages the general public in chemistry-related educational activities, participates in ACS activities at the annual Illinois State Fair, and publicizes all events and news-related content. The division oversees the annual Project SEED program for the Section as well as the Project SEED scholarships. The Division also assists public officials and other community bodies concerning chemistry-related matters. The Education and Outreach Division includes the Education, Outreach, Project SEED, and Public Affairs Committees.

    The EDUCATION COMMITTEE provides chemistry-related educational programs and information to learners of all ages and actively engages with educators at the pre-K-12 and college levels. Subcommittees include:

    • AACT Liaison
    • College Education Subcommittee
    • Continuing Education Subcommittee
    • Chicago School Board Liaison
    • K - 12 Education Subcommittee


    The PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE ensures that section members and public officials and bodies are informed of matters where the knowledge and practice of chemistry is of substantial public importance. These matters can include government issues, environmental issues and the social responsibility of chemists. The Public Affairs Committee gives the Public Affairs Award biennially.

    The OUTREACH COMMITTEE engages the general public, educators and children in chemistry-related educational activities and participates in many different types of events around the greater Chicago area.   Subcommittees include:

    • Community Activities Subcommittee
    • Illinois State Fair Subcommittee


    PROJECT SEED COMMITTEE identifies interested low-income and/or minority high school junior and senior students who are interested in participating in a paid summer research experience with  a college or university faculty member.  It supports financial and logistical concerns for the student/ faculty relationships and communicating  relevant program information to the national ACS organization.  The committee is also responsible for distributing Project SEED awards to support the internships. 

    Make Dry Ice Bubbles

    Kids, you can use sublimating dry ice to produce carbon dioxide gas to fill bubbles. Here we will give you three variations for this experience, beginning from simple and gradually getting a little more complex.

    Please note:  All chemicals and experiments can entail an element of risk, and no experiments should be performed without proper adult supervision.

    Small Bubbles. A small piece of dry ice can be used to produce cloudy bubbles that will last for a long time. Pour a little bubble solution into a bowl. If you don't have bubble solution, swish a small amount of liquid dishwashing detergent into water. Ask an adult partner to use tongs or gloves to pick up a piece of dry ice and add it to the bubble solution. That's it!

    Giant Bubble. All you need to make a giant bubble is dry ice, bubble solution, a paper towel or cloth rag, and a little water. The dry ice sublimates to form carbon dioxide gas, which expands the bubble. Pour some water into a bowl. Have an adult partner add a piece of dry ice. The dry ice will make bubbles in the liquid.  Use a piece of paper towel or a rag that has been wetted with bubble solution to smear bubble solution across the whole top surface of the container. What happens?

    Glowing Bubbles. You can make the bubbles glow by adding a little highlighter ink to the bubble solution. For the giant bubble version, you can try tonic water instead of tap water, and use a black light.

    How It Works
    Dry ice sublimes in air, meaning the solid carbon dioxide changes into carbon dioxide gas. This process occurs much more quickly in a bubble solution than in air. As the dry ice sublimes, the carbon dioxide vapor is caught inside the bubble solution. The bubble expands, but the cooled bubble solution does not evaporate quickly so the bubble lasts for a relatively long time.

    Sometimes conditions are right for the bubble to stabilize at a given size. This happens because carbon dioxide is able to diffuse across the bubble surface. Sublimating carbon dioxide expands the bubble, but when the bubble expands its walls become thinner and leak more. Since more carbon dioxide can escape, the pressure is reduced and the bubble has a tendency to shrink back again. As long as the solution doesn't evaporate too quickly, the bubble may remain relatively stable until the dry ice is nearly gone. At that point the bubble will become smaller.


    By Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs
    [email protected]

    February 2014


    Anne Marie Helmenstine in Chemistry: