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. 

    Static Power 

    Kids, can you imagine being able to bend water with static electricity? When two objects are rubbed against each other, some of the electrons from one object can jump to the other. The object that gains electrons becomes more negatively charged; the one that loses electrons becomes more positively charged. The opposite charges attract each other in a way that you can actually see.

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

    One way to collect charge is to comb your hair with a nylon comb or rub it with a balloon. The comb or balloon will become attracted to your hair, while the strands of your hair (all the same charge) repel each other. The comb or balloon will also attract a stream of water, believe it or not, because the water stream carries an electrical charge.

    Here is what to do:

    1. Comb dry hair with a nylon comb or rub it with an inflated latex balloon.
    2. Turn on the tap so that a narrow stream of water is flowing (1-2 mm across, flowing smoothly).
    3. Move the balloon or side of the comb close to the water (not in it). As you approach the water, the stream will begin to slightly bend.

    Experiments: It is fun to test these questions and try these variations. Does the amount of 'bend' depend on how close the comb is to the water? If you adjust the flow, does it affect how much the stream bends? Do combs made from other materials work equally well? How does a comb compare with a balloon? Do you get the same effect from everyone's hair or does some hair release more charge than others? Can you get your hair close enough to the water to repel it without getting it wet?

    Tip: This activity works better when the humidity is low. When humidity is high, water vapor catches some of the electrons that would jump between objects. For the same reason, your hair needs to be completely dry when you comb it.


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


    Anne Marie Helmenstine at