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. 

    Heat-Activated Invisible Inks

    Kids, how can you send an invisible message? Some science projects don't require any chemicals that you don't already have around the house, and a great example is invisible ink. 

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

    You use the ink by writing your message with it using a cotton swab, dampened finger, or toothpick. Let the message dry. To be extra sneaky, you may want to write a normal message on the paper so that it doesn't appear to be blank and meaningless. If you do write a cover message, use a ballpoint pen, pencil, or crayon (fountain pen ink could run into your invisible ink). Don’t use lined paper for the same reason.

    Most invisible inks are made visible by heating the paper. Some messages are developed by spraying or wiping the paper with a second chemical; others are revealed by ultraviolet light.

    Examples of common invisible inks are: any acidic fruit juice (e.g., lemon, apple, or orange juice), onion juice, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), vinegar (acetic acid), white wine, dilute cola, dilute honey, milk, soapy water, and sucrose (table sugar) solution. Here is just one example:

    1. Mix equal parts water and baking soda.
    2. Use a cotton swab, toothpick, or paintbrush to write a message onto white paper.
    3. Allow the “ink” to dry.
    4. One way to read the message is to have your adult partner hold the paper up to a heat source, such as a light bulb. The baking soda will cause the writing in the paper to turn brown.
    5. A second method to read the message is to paint over the paper with purple grape juice. The message will appear in a different color.


    1. If you are using the heating method, avoid igniting the paper - don't use a halogen bulb.   2. A cotton swab makes an excellent disposable 'paintbrush'.  3. Baking soda and grape juice react with each other in an acid-base reaction, producing a color change in the paper.  4. The writing turns brown because the weakened paper burns before the rest of the paper. Be careful not to overdo your heating and ignite the paper! 


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


    Reference:  Anne Marie Helmenstine on her April 27, 2008 blog at
    See these links for baking soda and lemon juice “inks”: and