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. 

    Ice Art

    Kids, make a colorful ice sculpture while learning about freezing point depression.  All you need is ice, salt, and food coloring!  You can use any type of salt. Coarse versions like rock salt or sea salt work great, as does the finer-grained table salt (all of these are sodium chloride, NaCl). You can even use other salt compositions like Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate, MgSO4).  For colors use water-based paints such as watercolors or tempera paints, or food coloring.

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

    What To Do

    1. Make ice. You can use ice cubes but larger pieces of ice are better. Freeze water in shallow plastic, disposable storage containers. Fill them only part way to make relatively thin pieces of ice. This is because the salt can melt holes all the way through thin pieces, making interesting ice tunnels.
    2. When you’re ready, remove the blocks of ice and place them on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan. If the ice doesn't come out easily, run warm water around the bottom of the container.
    3. Sprinkle salt onto the ice or make little salt piles on top of the ice. Experiment!
    4. Dot the surface with coloring. The coloring doesn't color the frozen ice, but it follows the melting pattern. You'll be able to see channels, holes, and tunnels in the ice, plus it looks like art work. 
    5. You can add more salt and coloring, or not. Explore however you like.
    6. NOTE!  This is a messy project. You should perform it outdoors or in a kitchen or bathroom. The coloring will stain hands and clothes and surfaces.

    How It Works

    The salt lowers the freezing point of water through a process called freezing point depression. The ice starts to melt because it is above its freezing point. It makes liquid water. Salt dissolves in the water, adding ions that increase the temperature at which the water could re-freeze. As the ice melts, energy is drawn from the water, making it colder. Salt is used in ice cream makers for this reason. It makes the ice cream cold enough to freeze. Did you notice how the water feels colder than the ice cube? The ice exposed to the salty water melts faster than other ice, so holes and channels form.

    from Anne Marie Helmenstine