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. 

    Soda Can Shakeup

    Kids, why does shaking a can of soda make it burst out when you open it? And does tapping on the can stop it from doing this?

    Contrary to popular belief, shaking a can of soda does not increase the pressure inside the can. Shaking takes one single pocket of carbon dioxide gas at the top of the can and changes it into thousands of tiny bubbles distributed throughout the entire can. This causes a huge increase in the surface area, so there are more places for the carbon dioxide to dissolve and bubble. 

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

    In an unshaken can, bubbling out happens at the liquid’s surface, but it can also happen anywhere along the inside walls of the can where there is some tiny bump—also called a nucleation site—that can help bubbles to form. For this reason, bottling companies make sure that the inside walls of their cans are as smooth as possible. Otherwise, soda would spray all over the place each time a can is opened.

    When a can is shaken and then opened, not only is there a great deal more surface area, but each tiny bubble can act as a nucleation site. This causes a rapid bubbling out of carbon dioxide all throughout the liquid, not just at the top. Voilá - a soda explosion.

    Now, does tapping on the top of the can stop it from exploding? The theory is that tapping loosens tiny bubbles stuck on the sides, which are nucleation sites; they float to the top and no longer pose a “soda explosion threat.” Ask an adult partner to confirm it (over a sink!): shake a can of soda at room temperature for five seconds, open it, and watch soda spray fizz out. Then shake an identical can of soda at room temperature for 5 seconds, tap it 10 times, open it, and much less soda should squirt out.

    But is this really a well-controlled experiment? Aside from tapping vs. not tapping, the time delay between shaking and opening the can may also make a difference. Now have your adult partner shake two identical cans—one in each hand—for five seconds, set them down and tap just one of them for five seconds. Then open them at the exact same time. Others report trying this experiment with a variety of sodas for a variety of shaking times and delay times, and are unable to observe any consistent difference between the tapped can and the control. No, it wasn’t “Mythbusters”, but this is similar to many of the urban legends that they disprove! 


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    April 2008


    Bob Becker in “ChemMatters” at February 2008 issue (big file, may load very slowly).
    Also see other sites such as: