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. 

    Alka-Seltzer Surface Area

    Kids, did you know that the rate of a chemical reaction can be affected by the physical size of the reactants?   When decreasing the size of particles that weigh a certain amount, you will increase the number of particles.  Here you will test the hypothesis that smaller particle size can increase the rate of a reaction because the surface area of the reactant has been increased.  Before beginning, make a prediction that a powdered form of a tablet will react X times faster than a whole tablet (guess at X).

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

    You will need: 3 clear glasses, 3 Alka-Seltzer® tablets (original formula effervescent), a mortar and pestle, and a stopwatch. Here is the procedure:

    1. Whole Tablet
      a. Fill a clear glass with exactly 8 oz. of room temperature or lukewarm water.
      b. Drop 1 whole Alka-Seltzer tablet into the water. Measure and record the time to dissolve.
    2. Tablet Broken into ~8 Pieces
      a. Place 1 Alka-Seltzer tablet onto a sheet of paper and break into approximately 8 pieces of about equal size.
      b. Fill a clear glass with exactly 8 oz. of room temperature or lukewarm water.
      c. Slide broken tablet into the water from the sheet. Measure and record the time to dissolve.
    3. Powdered Tablet
      a. Place 1 Alka-Seltzer tablet into mortar and grind to a fine powder.
      b. Transfer powder into a clear cup. (Note: It's important to have the powder in the cup before adding water.)
      c. Add 8 oz. of water to the glass. Measure and record the time to dissolve.

    From your measurements, determine whether the rate of reaction increased or decreased as the particle size decreased, and by how much. Was is 2 times faster, or more? 


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    March 2007