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. 

    Egg Engraving

    Kids, let's use some chemistry to engrave your name on a hard boiled egg. It's actually a process of reverse-engraving, because we'll make all of the shell disappear EXCEPT for your name

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

    First, your adult partner will have to hard boil some eggs for you (only one is needed for the experiment, but you can always eat the extras). With a china marking pencil or a wax crayon, print your initials or your first name, large and fairly thick, on the shell of a hard boiled egg. Now put the egg in a glass large enough to hold it and add enough fresh white vinegar to cover it. Tiny bubbles should form on the egg which show that the acid in the vinegar is reacting with the shell. The shell under the waxy letters is protected from this acid action. In an hour or two, when the bubbling stops, replace the now neutralized vinegar with a fresh supply. After another two hours wash off the egg under running water. Rub your fingers over the letters and they should stand out in relief.

    You can even try to GENTLY remove the wax coating with a soft brush and scouring powder under running water. An average eggshell is .094 inches thick. It's made of 3.5% protein, 1.5% water, and 95% calcium carbonate mineral. It is this CaCO3 mineral that reacts with the acetic acid in vinegar. If half of the shell has dissolved during the four hours, then it has only about an .05 inch-thickness left. So Be Careful!

    If you are interested, the very first ChemShorts column (published way back in January 1992) was called "The Naked Egg" and tells you how to completely dissolve an eggshell. Click here to see this ChemShort


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


    Reference: "Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science" by Don Herbert, Random House: NY, 1980, page 41.