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. 

    A Simple Weather Barometer 

    Kids, it's easy to make your own weather barometer! Using simple instruments, people predicted weather back in the good ole days before Doppler radar and GOES satellites. One of the most useful instruments is a barometer, which measures air pressure or barometric pressure. You can make your own barometer using everyday materials and then try to forecast the weather yourself.

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

    You’ll need a glass, jar, or can, plastic wrap, a straw, a rubber band, an index card or lined notebook paper, tape, and scissors. To make the barometer:

    1. Cover the top of the container with plastic wrap making an airtight seal and smooth surface. Secure the plastic wrap with a rubber band. The most important part of making the barometer is getting a good seal around the rim of the container.
    2. Lay the straw over the top of the wrapped container so that about two-thirds of the straw is over the opening. Secure the straw with a piece of tape.
    3. Either tape an index card to the back of the container or else set up your barometer with a sheet of notebook paper behind it.
    4. Mark the location of the end of the straw on your card or paper. Over time the straw will move up and down in response to changes in air pressure. Watch the movement of the straw and record the new readings.

    How does it work?  High atmospheric pressure pushes on the plastic wrap, causing it to cave in. The plastic and the taped section of straw sink, causing the end of the straw to tilt up. When atmospheric pressure is low, the pressure of the air inside the can is higher. The plastic wrap bulges out, raising the taped end of the straw. The edge of the straw falls until it comes to rest against the rim of the container. Temperature also affects atmospheric pressure so your barometer needs a constant temperature in order to be accurate. Keep it away from a window or other places that experience temperature changes.

    So how do you predict the weather? Weather patterns have regions of high and low atmospheric pressure. Rising pressure means dry, cool, and calm weather. Dropping pressure forecasts rain, wind, and storms.

    • Quickly rising pressure (over a few hours or a couple of days) after a period of low pressure means you can expect some good weather.
    • Slowly rising barometric pressure (over a week or so) indicates good weather that will stick around a while.
    • Quickly rising pressure that starts from average pressure during fair weather indicates a low pressure cell is approaching. You can expect the pressure to start to fall as poor weather approaches.
    • Slowly falling pressure indicates the presence of a nearby low pressure system and changes in weather are unlikely.
    • If the pressure continues to drop slowly you can expect a long period of bad weather.
    • A sudden drop in pressure (over a few hours) indicates an approaching storm within 5-6 hours. The storm probably involves wind and precipitation but won't last long. 


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


    Reference:  Anne Marie Helmenstine at: