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. 

    The Color of Gemstones

    Kids, did you ever wonder about the color of certain minerals, gems, or birthstones? Gemstones are minerals that can be polished and cut for use as an ornament or jewelry. The color of a gemstone comes from tiny, trace amounts of transition metals present in the main rock or mineral.  Transition metals are those in the middle, center section of a periodic table, from scandium (Sc) to zinc (Zn) in the first row.  The main rock or mineral is usually a very common material, such as silicon dioxide (silica, SiO2) or aluminum oxide (alumina, Al2O3).

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

    Take a look at the colors of common gemstones and the metals responsible for their color.  You can do this at a store that sells rocks and minerals, or a gem and mineral trade show, or even at a department store jewelry counter.

    Amethyst is a colored form of quartz (silica) that gets its purple color from the presence of iron. Aquamarine is a blue variety of the mineral beryl (beryllium aluminum silicate). The pale blue color comes from iron.  Emerald is another form of beryl, this time in a green color due to the presence of chromium and sometimes vanadium.  Garnet is an aluminosilicate that gets its deep red color from iron.  Peridot is the gemstone form of olivine, a magnesium silicate mineral formed in volcanoes. The yellow-green color comes from iron.  Have you heard of Hawaii’s green peridot sand beaches?

    Ruby is the name given to gemstone-quality corundum (alumina) that is pink to red in color. The color comes from the presence of trace chromium.  Corundum that is any color besides red is called sapphire. Blue sapphires are colored by iron and titanium.  Turquoise is an opaque mineral, meaning that it is not clear, that gets its blue to green color from copper within its aluminum phosphate matrix.


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    November 2010



    Anne Marie Helmenstine, “Gemstone Colors and Transition Metals”, 

    Learn About Gemstones

    Geochemistry & Petrochemistry