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. 

    Homemade Floam

    Kids, what is like slime with polystyrene beads in it that can be molded into shapes? It’s a really fun toy called Floam™. You can sculpt with this colorful goop or use it to coat other objects. You can store it to reuse it or allow it to dry, if you want permanent creations. It's a lot of fun, but not always easy to locate. So, you can make a type of 'Floam' yourself. Like slime, it is generally safe, though anything containing food coloring can stain surfaces (don’t eat it though, because polystyrene beads simply aren't food!). 

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

    Here is what to do:

    1. Dissolve 2 tsp. borax completely in 1/2 cup water. (If you want slimier, more flexible 'Floam', then try 1 tsp. borax instead)

    2. In a separate container, mix 1/4 cup white glue and 1/4 cup water. Stir in food coloring.

    3. Pour the glue solution and about 1 1/3 cup of polystyrene beads into a Ziploc® plastic bag. Add borax solution and knead it until it's well mixed. Use 1 tbsp. of the borax solution for a very fluid Floam, 3 tbsp for average Floam, and the entire amount for stiff Floam.

    4. To keep your Floam, store it in a sealed bag in the refrigerator (this discourages mold). Otherwise, you can allow it to dry into whatever shape you chose.

    How it works:

    Borax reacts to crosslink the polyvinyl acetate molecules in the glue. This forms a flexible polymer.


    1. If you use a 4% solution of polyvinyl alcohol instead of glue, you will get a more transparent product that will hold shapes better.

    2. Polystyrene beads can be found at craft stores (e.g., JoAnn Fabrics), usually as fillers for bean bags or dolls. Or, for more hands on fun, you can grind Styrofoam™ cups using a cheese grater. 


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



    Anne Marie Helmenstine’s “About Chemistry” at