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. 

    Magical Microfiber

    Kids, what makes a microfiber cloth so good at picking up dust and water?  Believe it or not, it’s chemistry behind the magic. Here are some tests to determine the quality of a microfiber towel or cloth.   All you need are some different brands of microfiber cleaning cloths, a paper towel, and a rag made from a cotton t-shirt. 

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

    The first test is touch. How does the microfiber cloth feel?   Soft?  Does the material “grab” the imperfections on your skin when you run it over the palm of your hand?  When this happens it means the cloth is made from ‘split microfiber’. The tip of a split microfiber looks like an asterisk under a microscope. The open spaces in the split microfiber allow it to pick up and hold dirt and liquid. If you don’t feel a “grab” from the towel it may not be split, and if it’s not split it won’t be any more effective as a cleaning towel than a cotton rag.

    Another test is absorbency. Pour a little water on a flat, smooth surface, take a folded microfiber cloth and slowly slide the towel towards the puddle. Observe as the cloth contacts the water. Does it suck the water up like a vacuum? Does it push the water away? Is it somewhere in between? Does the water quickly wick through? You want a cloth that sucks the water up like a vacuum and wicks throughout the cloth.  Compare the behavior to the paper towel and the piece of cotton cloth.

    Synthetic microfibers are exceptionally strong yet have very thin fibers (three times thinner than cotton fibers). Microfibers are specialized polymers – long chain-like molecules made of repeating units strung like beads on a thread.  They wick moisture away by absorbing up to seven times their weight in moisture.  Cotton soaks water by absorbing it, but microfibers pull water away to a drier part of the fabric.


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


    Roberta Baxter, ChemMatters, American Chemical Society, October 2011, page 4, “Polymers: The amazing properties of microfibers”.