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. 

    Color Drops

    Kids, let"s watch the ways in which food coloring can move through different liquids. You"ll need 3 clear plastic cups, water, 4 teaspoons of salt, seltzer water, and food coloring. 

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

    Fill two of the cups 2/3 full with water. Add 1 drop of food coloring to the first cup and immediately observe what happens. You can use a worksheet to draw your results. To make the worksheet, first draw three simple cup shapes on the paper, indicate the liquid level by drawing a wavy line 2/3 of the way up, and label them plain water, salt water, and fizz water. Add the salt to the second cup and stir until the salt dissolves. Add one drop of food coloring to the this cup and immediately observe, and again draw what you saw. Now fill the third cup 2/3 full with seltzer water, add 1 drop of food coloring, observe, and draw.

    What happened? In plain water the drop slowly swirls and moves throughout. In salt water, the drop starts to sink and then rises. In the fizz water, the drop quickly disperses and evenly colors the liquid. Why? Putting food coloring in plain water does not have a dramatic effect other than that the color becomes more pale (diluted). The gas bubbles in the fizz water act to speed things up, like an invisible stirring spoon. The drop of food coloring is quickly broken up and carried to all parts of the liquid. Salt water is more dense than plain water. This means that anything less dense will float on the top, including the food coloring (which is a drop of colored water).


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    March 1999


    Reference: Marlisa Ebeling (primary level teacher, Naperville district 203).