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. 

    Cabbage Chemistry - pH Tests

    Kids, let's make your own acid/base pH indicator by doing a little cooking - just by boiling red cabbage. The juice is used to test the pH of different liquids. 

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

    Tear up 1/2 head of red cabbage (or use a grater with supervision), place the pieces in a pot and add just enough water to cover them. Boil (with supervision) for 20-30 min until the liquid turns a dark purple color. Let cool and pour through a strainer into a large jar. You can even save the cabbage for later - add a little vinegar and it's a relish for hotdogs, etc. The collected liquid should be blue/dark purple. Make some test acid and base solutions in cups: white vinegar, clear soda, diluted lemon juice (acids) and some detergent in water or some baking soda in water (bases), and pure water (neutral). Add a few drops of the cabbage juice to each solution and note any color changes.

    The juice should turn pink in acidic solutions, green in basic solutions, and not change in neutral solutions. Try some other solutions of interest. You can also try making your own pH paper: soak a coffee filter in the juice and let it dry, then cut into test strips. Or pre-cut the filter into any interesting shape. Dip your papers into the test solutions are record what happens. What might happen if you dip a paper first into a base and then into the vinegar? You can even try a little creative art by using a cotton swab dipped in vinegar to draw on your pH paper. Can you then make your art disappear? Try all of these things and have fun!

    Further comment: Red cabbage works so well because of the highly colored anthocyanin dye it contains. Other plants that contain these molecules are beets, cranberries, and blueberries.


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


    References:, the Mad Scientist Network based at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, and WonderScience, February 1988.