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. 

    Teflon: A Guiness Record Holder

    Kids, did you know that teflon is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the slipperiest material in the world? The secret lies in its highly stable covalent bonds. Let¹s learn more about teflon's chemistry and do a little test of its amazing properties.

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

    Teflon is a polymer with long chains of strong carbon-carbon bonds. The long chains are strung together from short tetrafluoroethylene (C2F4) molecules. The tradename teflon is actually a short version of the chemical name polytetrafluoroethylene (PFTE). Each carbon in the chain also has two fluorines attached to it, and C-F bonds are exceptionally strong. The C-F bonds are so strong that virtually nothing can break them apart. Not other chemicals and not high temperatures. It is therefore perfect for nonstick coatings on cookware.

    Try this test using teflon tape. PFTE tape is available in most hardware stores because plumbers use it to make water-tight seals between threaded pipes. Cut a 10-15 cm length of this tape and stretch it a bit lengthwise. Now stretch it a little bit widthwise and note the difference. Now stretch it again lengthwise and note what happens. Cut a new length and with a permanent marker carefully print your name on the tape. You'll have to write very lightly and hold the ends tightly (perhaps a friend can help) because the tape will want to bunch up. It's tricky but you can do it if you're careful. Slowly stretch the tape widthwise in a few places to distort your name beyond recognition. Now pull the two ends apart and voila! your name will appear again. Redistort and try again. Think about the properties of teflon tape that let you do this. A common question is: if nothing sticks to teflon, how can teflon stick to a pan? DuPont uses a procedure (called stratification) in which a mixture of materials is baked onto a metal pan at a high temperature (about 420°C). During this treatment, binder molecules in the mixture attach to the pan, and the fluoropolymer molecules rise to the top of the coating. The result is a non-stick surface that stays in place. Check out for details on the development of teflon and other applications. Next month: Kevlar!


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


    Reference: "ChemMatters" 10/99, p. 16, by R. Becker; American Chemical Society, Washington, DC.