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. 

    Water Water Everywhere

    Kids, did you ever wonder how much of the water on the planet is available to drink? Although 75% (three-quarters) of the Earth's surface is covered with water, 97% of it is too salty to drink. Another 2.5% is either frozen or too deep to reach, leaving just 0.5% of Earth's water for drinking, washing, cooking, and irrigation. Here we have an activity so that you can see for yourself how little water this is. Because proper proportions are so important for this demonstration, we will use the accurate measuring "cups" available in a standard science lab: a 1-liter beaker filled to the liter mark with tap water, 10- and 50-ml graduated cylinders, 3 smaller beakers (about 50 -ml size), a dropper, wax paper, measuring spoons, and sodium chloride (table salt).

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

    Imagine that the water in the 1-L beaker represents all the water on Earth. Now pour 28 ml (using the 50-ml cylinder) into a small beaker labeled "A". Stir 1 tablespoon of salt into the large beaker of water. This big beaker now represents all of the salty, undrinkable ocean water on the planet, and the 28 ml in beaker A represents all of the Earth's freshwater. Pour 6.5 ml from beaker A into another small beaker labeled "B". Now beaker A represents all of the freshwater frozen in ice caps and glaciers (you can even freeze this now to make it more dramatic), and beaker B is the rest of the freshwater. Pour 3.4 ml from beaker B into the last small beaker, labeled "C". Now beaker B represents groundwater that is too deep to use, and beaker C is the entire freshwater supply available to us on Earth.

    Unfortunately, much of this freshwater is polluted. Use the dropper to remove just 5 drops from beaker C and drip them onto a piece of wax paper. These 5 drops are a reasonable estimate of how much drinkable water is actually available from the original 1 liter of water.

    As freshwater becomes scarce people are beginning to turn to seawater as a resource. However, before we can drink seawater the salt must be removed. (This is because too much salt will disrupt the normal balance of electrolytes in our bodies; cells with too much or too little will not function properly). Desalination plants purify water either by distillation (boiling off pure water leaves salts behind, but this is very expensive) or reverse osmosis using special membranes (see 5/01 issue for more on this).


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


    References: M. Stewart in ChemMatters, Oct. 2002, pg 4 (American Chemical Society); M. Brennan, Chemical & Engineering News, 4/9/01, pg 32; D. Martindale, Scientific American, Feb. 2001, pg 52.