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. 

    Making Sandstone

    Kids, how would you like to make your own rock?  There are three major types of rock: sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous.  This particular activity concerns sandstone, which is a type of sedimentary rock.  You will need ½ cup (118 ml) of water, 2 paper cups, 2-1/2 tablespoons of Epsom salts (hydrated magnesium sulfate, MgSO4 which can be found at drugstores), and ½ cup (100 gm) of dry sand.  Armed with these items you can perform your own geochemistry experiment!

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

    Put 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) of water in one of the paper cups.  Dissolve the Epsom salts in this water.  Stir with a spoon until almost all the salt has dissolved.  These salts will act to cement the particles of sand together, just like certain minerals cement sand grains together in real sandstone.  Now put 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) of sand in the bottom of the other paper cup.  Pour the salt mixture into the sand and stir until the sand is completely wet.  Let this slurry sit undisturbed for an hour.  Then carefully pour off any clear water that has risen to the top.  Repeat this several times throughout the day as needed until no clear water is left.  Now set the cup aside, uncovered, and let it sit undisturbed for at least one week.

    When your sandstone has dried completely, you will be able to tear the paper cup away from it.  If anything is still damp when you try this, let the sandstone dry for a few more days and then try again.  This might seem like a long time to wait, but it is eons shorter than the time it takes for real sandstone to form!

    In nature, all kinds of sediment – pebbles, sand, clay, tiny dead animals, shells, plants – can be turned into rock.  Most sedimentary rocks form under water.  The process may take millions of years as sediment is slowly buried by more piling on top. As the pile gets heavier, particles on the bottom are squeezed and warmed by the heat of the earth. In addition to that, water that has minerals dissolved in it seeps in between the pieces and then evaporates.  The minerals that are left behind cement the particles together into a larger rock.

    A geochemist can see the results of these processes using a microscope.  Sedimentary rock grains are smoothed by their journeys through water and are surrounded by the mineral cements.  Using a magnifying glass, see if you can make out any of these features.  Igneous rocks, on the other hand, are jagged and interlocked without any cement. 


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    June 2005


    References: “Geology Crafts for Kids: 50 Nifty Projects to Explore the Marvels of Planet Earth” by A. Anderson, G. Diehn, & T. Krautwurst. Sterling Publishing Co., NY, 1998, pg. 63.  Also