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. 

    How an Ice Cream Float Works

    An ice cream soda or ice cream float is made by adding soda pop or seltzer to ice cream. Some people add flavoring, like chocolate syrup, or a little milk. However you make it, as soon as the soda hits the ice cream you get fizzy, frothy, tasty bubbles.

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

    Do you know how it works? It's basically the same as what is going on with the Mentos™ soda fountain (see “Mentos Mayhem” September 2004 ChemShorts), except not as messy. You are releasing the carbon dioxide in the soda out of solution. Bubbles of air in the ice cream provide nucleation sites around which carbon dioxide bubbles can form and grow. Some ingredients in the ice cream lower the surface tension of the soda so the gas bubbles can expand, while other ingredients trap the bubbles in much the same way as small amounts of protein in seawater trap air to form seafoam.

    Very popular varieties include black cows (cola and vanilla ice cream), brown cows (root beer and vanilla ice cream), and a coffee cola float (which is both bubbly and caffeinated). For kids, purple cows are also a big hit – they are both frothy and leave a purple tongue and mustache – a double win.

    A Purple Cow has purple grape juice and milk and/or milk products. Here's a few versions; take your choice.

    Purple Cow #1

    1 1/2 cups cold skim or reduced fat milk

    3 tbsp frozen grape juice concentrate

    1/2 cup low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt or ice milk

    5 medium ice cubes or the same amount of crushed ice

    Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

    Purple Cow #2

    3/4 cups 1 percent low-fat milk 

    1 1/2 tbsp frozen grape juice concentrate 

    1/4 cups fat-free vanilla yogurt 

    Combine ingredients in a container with lid and shake until well blended. Pour into a tall glass. 

    Welch's Purple Cow #3:

    in a 12 oz. glass combine two scoops of vanilla ice cream with chilled Welch's purple grape juice. 


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


    Reference:  Anne Marie Helmenstine at: and