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. 

    Purple Cauliflower Indicator

    June, 2015:

    Kids, did you know that cauliflower also comes in orange and purple colors? And that you can make designs using purple cauliflower and lemon juice? Make a quick trip to the grocery store with an adult partner and find out how!

    First, a little science. The deep purple color of purple cauliflower comes from anthocyanins, the antioxidant that gives the purple color to the skins of grapes, plums, and eggplants. Anthocyanin is a harmless, water soluble pigment and so purple cauliflower is perfectly safe to eat.

    pH is a measure, used by chemists, of the strength of acids and bases. Anthocyanins can be used as pH indicators because their color changes with pH; they are pink in acidic solutions (pH < 7), purple in neutral solutions (pH ~ 7), greenish-yellow in basic solutions (pH > 7), and colorless in very basic solutions. You may have heard of red cabbage as pH indicators because, not surprisingly, they also contain anthocyanins.

    Have an adult partner steam some purple cauliflower in a steam basket on the stove, and collect the dark blue/purple water after it cools. Pour equal amounts of the cooled purple water into a few clear glasses. Add a teaspoon of cream of tartar (tartaric acid) to one glass and stir. Add a teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to another glass and stir. Add some lemon juice (citric acid) to a glass and stir. What happens? Find other items around your home and test them using your cauliflower indicator to determine whether they are acids or bases.

    To some uncooked, raw purple cauliflower, add some drops of lemon juice. What happens? Here is where you can get creative and make some interesting designs in your vegetables.

    Heating the purple florets will also change their color from purple to gray or slate blue, especially if your water is hard or has an alkaline pH. You could add a bit of vinegar or cream of tartar to the water to minimize the color change.

    Many thanks to Antonya Sanders for the tip!

    Editor, Dr. Kathleen Carrado Gregar, Argonne National Laboratory