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. 

    Powdered Olive Oil

    Kids, what is molecular gastronomy?  It's food science that seeks to understand the chemical and physical transformations that occur during cooking.  It uses chemistry to put a modern spin on traditional foods. In this experiment, you will combine maltodextrin powder with olive oil to make a powdered oil.  Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate powder derived from starch that dissolves the instant it hits your mouth.  It melts away with no gritty or powdery sensation, so you taste the oil. You will need maltodextrin and olive oil.  Food-grade maltodextrin is sold under many names, including N-Zorbit M, Tapioca Maltodextrin, Maltosec, and Malto.  Maltodextrin is derived from a number of sources, and, depending on your source, you may get different results.  Most of these references recommend a tapioca-based maltodextrin.

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

    Whisk together maltodextrin and oil or combine them in a food processor. You can use a fork or spoon, if you don't have a whisk. Use about half and half oil and maltodextrin by weight for your first experiment.  If the resulting mixture is too oily, add more maltodextrin; if too dry, more oil.  For a fine powder, you can use a sifter or push the powder through a strainer. You can serve the powdered olive oil by itself in a decorative spoon or as a topping on dry foods, such as crackers.

    An alternative method is to combine maltodextrin with other fatty products such as peanut butter. The only 'rule' is to mix it with a lipid (a fat-based material), not water or a high-moisture ingredient.

    Note: Don't put the powder in contact with a water-based liquid because it will dissolve. The powder will last for a day at room temperature or for several days if sealed and refrigerated. Be sure to keep the powder away from moisture or a high-humidity environment.

    A couple of videos of the process:

    To view all past “ChemShorts for Kids”, go to:

    The Primary Education Committee of the Chicago Section ACS presents this column and hopes it will reach young children and help increase their interest in science. Please print it out and pass it on to your children, grandchildren, or elementary school teachers. Teachers are encouraged to incorporate the projects in this column into their lesson plans.