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. 

    Mineral Paint

    Kids, what do you think makes the vivid color of paints stay bright for years and years? Unlike paints made from plants or other sources, paints made from minerals hold their color well over time. But they can be hard to make when the minerals are rock-hard. Soft minerals, like chalk (also known as gypsum, calcium sulfate, CaSO4), are the easiest to make into paints because they’re easy to crush. 

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

    Here is how you can make your own mineral paint. Wearing a common dust mask, grind a mineral to a fine powder using a mortar and pestle. The mineral can be chalk, clay, red ochre (an iron oxide pigment found in art supply stores), or charcoal. The finer the powder is ground, the smoother the paint will be. Pour the powder into a shallow bowl and add a few drops of water; stir with the pestle until it becomes a smooth paste. A binding agent is needed to stop the paste from drying out to dust. You can use white craft glue for this, or a very clean egg yolk (separate the yolk from the white and gently roll it in a kitchen towel to clean it). Add the binding agent in about a 1:3 ratio of binder:paste, and stir with a mixing stick.

    Imagine you are in prehistoric times as a cave painter using your handmade mineral paints. Use clay or red ochre for the red paint, chalk to make white paint for highlights, and charcoal to make black outlines and shadows. The paints used in the finest cave paintings 17,000 years ago were made from these materials. Look up cave paintings in books or on-line to find an original you want to copy.

    Pigments and dyes create intense colors. Dyes dissolve in water and soak into fabrics, coloring them throughout. Pigments don’t dissolve, so they are ground into powder and made into paint. Azurite was once an important source of blue paint; it is a soft, deep blue copper carbonate mineral:  Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2.

    Tips: Dip your paintbrush in water if your paint starts to dry out. Wear a dust mask in case some mineral powders are an inhalation risk; adults should crush very hard minerals for you. Don’t ever use yellow or orange minerals because some are toxic. 


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


    “Rock and Fossil Hunter”, a Smithsonian series book by Ben Morgan; DK Publishing, Inc. NY; 2005; page 32.