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. 

    Crystal Snowflake Ornaments

    Kids, learn how to cover a paper snowflake with crystals to make a glittering crystal snowflake decoration!  You will crystallize borax onto homemade paper snowflakes, in any size you like. You will need:  round paper coffee filters, borax, water, scissors, and food coloring (optional). 

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

    1. Cut a paper snowflake (or other shape) from the coffee filter.  Go to this link for actual snowflake paper cut-out shapes.
    2. Have an adult partner prepare your crystal solution by stirring 3 tablespoons of borax into 1 cup of very hot water.  It's okay if there is a little undissolved borax. Add a drop of food coloring, if you want colored snowflake ornaments.
    3. Place the paper snowflake onto a plate or saucer. Have your adult partner carefully pour the crystal solution over the snowflake, making sure it is completely covered.  Try to leave any undissolved borax behind in the cup.
    4. Allow crystals to grow on the snowflake until you are satisfied with their size. Small crystals take about an hour to form. You can allow the crystals to grow overnight if you want larger crystals.
    5. Pour off the crystal solution and carefully dislodge the crystal snowflake from the plate. This is best done with a fingernail or butter knife. You can remove any crystals that are stuck in the holes of the snowflake.
    6. Allow the crystal snowflake to fully dry before removing it and hanging it.

    Borax is a natural mineral with a chemical formula Na2B4O7 • 10H2O. The formal name for borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate, but it’s more commonly known as sodium borate. It is one of the most important boron compounds.  Borax is found in laundry booster, certain hand soaps and in some toothpastes. You can find it as 20 Mule Team Borax (pure borax) in the laundry detergent aisle of stores.

    Borax has many uses on its own, plus it is an ingredient in other products. Here are some uses of borax powder and pure borax in water:

    Borax is an ingredient in several other products, such as: buffer solutions, flame retardants, teeth bleaching products, glass, ceramics and pottery, and enamel glazes.


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    January 2013


    Anne Marie Helmenstine at Chemistry