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. 

    Rochelle Salt – Part I

    Kids, did you ever hear of a crystal radio kit?  More on that in Part II of this activity, but here we will make an essential ingredient.  Rochelle salt can be used to grow very large single crystals that exhibit piezoelectricity.  This property means the creation of electricity resulting from pressure in the form of mechanical stress.  As a result these crystals can be used as transducers in microphones.  

    Rochelle salt is also called potassium sodium tartrate with the molecular formula of KNaC4H4O6•4H2O.  Unless your adult partner works in a lab, you probably don't have this chemical lying around.  But you can make it in your own kitchen!

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

    Make sodium carbonate (also called washing soda, Na2CO3) by having your adult partner heat the contents of one half of a box of sodium bicarbonate (also called baking soda, NaHCO3) spread thinly in an oven-safe pan at 275°F for an hour.

    Have your adult partner heat a mixture of about 80 grams cream of tartar (KC4H5O6) in 100 milliliters of water to a boil in a saucepan.  Remove from heat.  One teaspoon at a time, slowly stir the sodium carbonate powder into the cream of tartar solution. The solution will bubble after each addition, so stir until bubbling stops. Continue adding sodium carbonate until no more bubbles form.

    Chill this solution in the pan in the refrigerator. Crystalline Rochelle salt will form on the bottom of the pan. Carefully save your Rochelle salt aside for Part II of this activity which will appear in our next edition.


    1.  Use a stainless steel, or better yet, a Pyrex saucepan -- not an aluminum pan to dissolve the cream of tartar.  The cream of tartar could leach some metal out of an aluminum pan which might interfer with your experiment.

    2.  There are some examples of artificial cream of tartar on the market shelves;  check the lable to make sure the product you buy is the real thing.  


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    June 2012



    Anne Marie Helmenstine at Chemistry