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. 

    A Chemical Counterfeit Test

    Kids, what's so special about the paper that money is printed on? First of all, it isn't really paper at all. Rather, at a blend of cotton and linen, it is more like fabric material. The blend is about 3/4 cotton and 1/4 linen but the precise amounts are kept very secret.

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

    As you can imagine, the U. S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing uses many different methods to try to stop counterfeiters. We've written about some of them in this column before (see 3/93 for magnetic inks and 10/00 on the "Science of Money"). Here we'll describe one chemical test that you can do to spot the fake in a stack of bills.

    Real paper is either coated or "sized" with starch. Starch sizing means that starch has been added to ordinary paper to fill the gaps between cellulose wood fibers. It acts to stiffen the paper very much like the way laundry starch stiffens a shirt collar. It also makes paper less absorbent to ink. Without sizing, ink would smear out all over the paper fibers and make words blurry. Paper money, however, has to completely absorb and bind ink. Did you ever wash a bill accidentally in the laundry? It comes out good as new without any loss of ink whatsoever. No starch sizing is used in the production of currency paper.

    So, a test for starch is a great way to tell the different between real and fake money. Here's how to do it yourself. To see how a dilute iodine solution (you can find this at a drugstore) reacts with starch, dab a little bit using a cotton swab onto a slice of raw potato. The deep blue-black color that results is a positive test for starch (potatoes are full of starch). It happens when the yellow-red color of iodine combines with starch molecules. Now dab some iodine onto regular paper and see if the same thing happens (it should). Now repeat the test with a dollar bill. Did you get a positive starch test? You shouldn't!


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    March 2003


    Reference: E. Venere, "The Money Makers" in ChemMatters, 2/03, p. 14 and in Chemistry (both American Chemical Society publications, the latter a quarterly newspaper).