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. 

    Christmas Tree Preservative

    Kids, do you have a real Christmas tree for the holidays?  How would you like to be in charge of feeding and watering your tree?  Yes, your tree needs food and water just as much as you do! 

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

    Christmas tree and cut flower preservatives all contain the same ingredients: a food source for the plant, an acidifier (hard water is alkaline - making the water more acidic helps the plant take in water and food), and a disinfectant to prevent mold, fungi, and algae from growing.

    Here are some really important safety tips before we get started:

    1. Be sure to have an adult partner to supervise and to pour the ingredients.

    2. Do Not Drink! If you make enough preservative to store, label your container and keep it out of reach of other kids and pets.

    3. Mixing bleach and vinegar is not recommended because it produces toxic vapors when mixed. However, the low levels used here will be okay if your adult partner follows a certain procedure. If vinegar or lemon juice is used, add it to the water and then add the bleach to the water/acid mixture.

    4. Make your solution in a well-ventilated area.

    5. For the Christmas tree, you will need 1 gallon of water, 2 cups light corn syrup, 4 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar (optional), and 4 teaspoons chlorine bleach. Add all ingredients to the water individually.

    6. For flowers you can cut the recipe down to: 1 quart water, 1/2 c. corn syrup, 1 tsp. bleach, 1 tsp. lemon juice.

    7. Both trees and flowers will last longer in cooler areas away from direct sunlight. Make sure the tree or flowers always have enough preservative. Regularly refill the vase or the base where the tree sits. You can store the solution for 4-5 days at room temperature in a closed container or for two weeks refrigerated.

    8. If you don't have corn syrup, you can substitute 4 teaspoons of sugar dissolved in the water.

    9. Another common option is to substitute a can of acidic soft drink, like Sprite or 7-Up, instead of the corn syrup and lemon juice. Just add a can of (non-diet) soft drink to a gallon of water, with the tiny amount of bleach.

    10. Instead of bleach and an acid, some people add a penny to a sugar solution with the idea that the copper can act as both a fungicide and acidifier. Personally we can’t attest to how well this would work. Maybe you could try both as part of your experiment, using two different vases of the same flowers! 


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    December 2006



    Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine at: