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. 

    DNA Extraction

    Kids, would you like to see DNA extracted from your very own mouth?  Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is present in all living things from bacteria to plants to animals. In animals, it is found in almost all cell types: muscles, reproductive cells, hair roots, and skin cells -- anything that has a nucleus. The basic procedure for extracting DNA in a laboratory is:

    · Collect cells.
    · Split cells open and release contents (proteins, fats and carbohydrates).
    · Destroy enzymes which break apart DNA.
    · Separate DNA from other cell components (proteins, fats and carbohydrates).
    · Precipitate DNA.
    · Resuspend DNA in solution so it can be studied. 

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

    Many of these steps can be accomplished in a simple experiment at home.  You will need a bottle of clear Gatorade™, Dixie™ cups, dishwashing liquid, rubbing alcohol and a clear vial with a screwcap (20 ml is a good size).

    First, chill the bottle of rubbing alcohol on ice. Pour a small squirt of dishwashing liquid into the vial and add water (1 part detergent to 3 parts water).  Put 15-20 ml of Gatorade™ in your mouth and swish it around for 30 seconds, gently grinding the inside of your cheeks against your teeth.  Spit this into a clean Dixie™ cup.  Pour this into the vial of detergent until nearly full.  Gently rock the vial back and forth for a few minutes.  Do not agitate – you don’t want to make foam or bubbles.  Now add a teaspoon of the chilled rubbing alcohol to the vial and let sit for a few minutes.  You should see the DNA separate out as white strands.

    What’s happening?  The salt solution keeps the cells from lysing, or splitting open, too soon. The detergent releases DNA from the nucleus by breaking open the fatty molecules the make up the cell membranes and helps remove proteins associated with DNA. DNA doesn’t dissolve in rubbing alcohol, so it precipitates out as white strands.  If you took all of the DNA from a single cell and laid it end to end, it would be almost 2 meters long!

    TIPS:  A 0.9% saline solution will also work (9 gm NaCl in 1 liter distilled water) but Gatorade™ tastes better; clear is best but if you can’t find it then the yellow lemon-lime should work. Powerade™ doesn’t have enough salt to work.


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    February 2011


    Elizabeth Neis and also the California Science Center at:
    The exact reference: