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. 

    Thermometer Thoughts

    Kids, how would you like to make your own thermometer? All you will need is some water, rubbing alcohol, a clear, narrow-necked plastic bottle, food coloring, a clear plastic straw, and tape or modeling clay. Here is what you do:

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

    1. Pour equal volumes of rubbing alcohol and water into the bottle. You want the bottle to be at most 1/4 full.
    2. Add a couple drops food coloring.
    3. Put the straw in the bottle such that the bottom is under the liquid, but not touching the bottom of the bottle.
    4. Fix the straw in place using tape or clay. Seal the bottle so that air can not get in or out of the bottle around the straw.
    5. Heat the bottle and watch what happens. The easier way is to hold it in your hands for a few minutes.
    6. You can cool the bottle by putting it in the fridge.

    Congratulations - you just made a thermometer! Just like any thermometer, the liquid expands when warmed. This makes the liquid no longer fit in the bottom of the bottle. As the alcohol expands the colored mixture moves up through the straw. You can watch your thermometer and see how the liquid changes throughout the day. What happens if your thermometer is in shadow or in sunlight? The liquid should go up the straw with heat and down the straw when cooled (hopefully not all the way or the thermometer might not work anymore).

    Why does the level of the liquid change with temperature? Because the air in the bottle changes volume with temperature. As air is heated it either expands or exerts more pressure. In trying to expand and in exerting pressure, it fights gravity and pushes some liquid up the straw. Most common thermometers work with exactly these principles.


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


    Reference:   and