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. 

    Honey, it's Chemistry!

    Kids, what is both a sweetener and an antiseptic, is the most mentioned food in the Bible, and is the only food manufactured for us by animals?   Believe it or not, the answer is honey.   Honey comes in many forms.   Extracted honey is a liquid that has been removed from the honeycombs using a centrifuge.   These machines are called extractors in the beekeeper's world.  Comb honey is still in the original beeswax combs made by the bees.  This type is less adaptable to cooking, but real honey-lovers prefer its natural flavors.

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

    An average worker bee will visit 50-100 flowers on each collection trip.  Yet in her lifetime, the busy bee will gather enough nectar to make only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey!   Field honeybees gather the nectar, a sweet secretion in plant blossoms that contains fructose, glucose and sucrose as well as trace proteins, salts and acids.   This goes in their honey stomach, where it is mixed with enzymes and the chemistry of the nectar is slightly altered.   The taste, odor, and quality of honey varies with the type of flower from which the nectar is gathered.   Soil chemistry and honeycomb quality also influence how honey tastes and looks.  Honey may vary from clear (alfalfa from alkaline soils) to very dark (buckwheat from acidic soils).  Colors between these can be golden, red, and even green.

    The chemical composition of honey is about 82% carbohydrates.   These are fructose and glucose (70%); 9% sucrose, maltose, isomaltose, maltulose, turanose and kojibiose, and 4% erlose, theanderose and panose.   Sound like a chemical cupboard?   There are many more:   proteins and amino acids (enzymes such as invertase, amylase, glucose oxidase, catalase, and 18 free amino acids, of which the most abundant is proline).   Then there are the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (vitamins riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), the minerals calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, chromium and manganese, and antioxidant flavonoids, of which one, pinocembrin, is unique to honey).   And there are even more compounds that we won't list.

    Has your honey ever turned cloudy, grainy and difficult to pour?   Honey tends to crystallize because it is a supersaturated solution of sugar in water.   Crystallization depends on carbohydrate composition.   The fructose/glucose and glucose/water ratios are used to help predict the tendency of honey to crystallize.  Honeys with a low glucose/water ratio do not crystallize easily.   Processed honey should be stored between 64-75 °F.   Unprocessed (raw) honey should be stored at or below 50 °F.  If your honey has crystallized, slowly warm it to 115-120 °F to melt the crystals.   You can test this by buying different types of honey and recording the time that they take to crystallize at different temperatures.  Then remove the crystals by warming the honey (remove the lid and place the jar in warm water until crystals dissolve).   You will have to be patient though because crystallization can take a few weeks. 


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    January 2004


    Reference: For inspiration, the Food Network Alton Brown's Good Eats episode on honey (EA1D13).   Also,,, and