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. 

    Rainbow in a Glass

    Kids, can you imagine drinking a rainbow? In this example of the principle of density, you can! All that you’ll need is four glasses of the same size, sugar, water, and food coloring. 

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

    Put three tablespoons of water into each of four of the glasses. Next add one drop of food coloring to each glass, using a different color for each glass. Then mix in one tablespoon of sugar into the first glass, two into the second, three into the third, and four into the fourth.

    Each of the glasses of sugar water will have different densities. The one with the most sugar will be the most dense (thick, or heavy), so use that as your main glass. Slowly and carefully, over the back of a spoon, pour the next-dense liquid (the one with 3 tablespoons of sugar) onto the densest layer. Repeat this careful pouring process until all of the liquids are layered on top of each other, with the least dense layer (one tablespoon of sugar) on top.

    Most experiments do this with liquids such as oil, water, alcohol, and cream, because they are easier to keep separate (see ChemShorts Jan 1999 for examples). As you can see during this experiment, though, just using different densities of sugar water is enough. Eventually, through the random mixing of molecules, and unlike oil and water, the different layers here will easily mix, so you have to pour or drink carefully. Still, this is an easily drinkable rainbow — if you have a fondness for sugar.

    NOTE: While this may seem like a lot of sugar in one glass if actually consumed, consider that a single can of regular soda has the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons of sugar. (


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


    Esther Inglis-Arkell,; she also describes using Skittles as a colored-sugar source. Many thanks also to Milt Levenberg for this idea.