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. 

    Chalky Chromatography

    Kids, do you think you can unmix your favorite marker color? Some of the bright colors in your watercolor marker set are not made from a single pigment. Rather, just the right amount of different pigments is often mixed together. You can unmix, or separate, all of these pigments using a process called chromatography. This is one way that chemists use to separate mixtures into their individual parts. We have talked about chromatography previously in this column (see columns on the web from 10/92 and 2/95), but we have never asked chalk to do the work for us before.

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

    You'll need watercolor markers (several different colors and brands, be sure to try black), water, long fat pieces of white sidewalk chalk, and clear cups. Fill a cup with 1/4 inch of water. Using a marker, draw a line of color around a piece of chalk, about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Stand the chalk in the water with the color line just above the water line. Don't let the water line touch the color line otherwise the color will just wash into to the water. Instead, what you want is for the water to percolate up the chalk. It will then dissolve the ink pigments and carry them up the stalk of chalk. Different colors of pigment will travel up the chalk at different rates, depending on the size, shape, weight, and composition of the pigment molecules.

    Eventually the chalk will be decorated with a colorful, smeared-out band. Let it dry out and then use this designer chalk to decorate your sidewalks and driveways. Try it again with new pieces of chalk and other colors. 


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    June 2002


    Reference: Joan Silberlicht Epstein, Scientific American Explorations magazine, Spring 2001, page 45.