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. 


    Kids, did you know that most of the natural color of convenience foods is lost during processing? Food manufacturers add artificial coloring to foods to restore their expected color. Red food dyes are added to hotdogs that would otherwise look gray, for example. Natural food colorings (pigments from paprika, beets, carrots, and leaves) fade with time and generally have a low coloring power

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

    A long time ago chemists discovered how to make good dyes from coal tar, and the FDA has certified four - one blue, two reds, and one yellow - as safe to eat. This experiment will let you detect coal tar dyes in food. You'll need colored liquids like tomato or beet juice, soda, tea, maraschino cherries, grenadine, jellies, water from canned and cooked vegetables; powders like paprika, saffron, or turmeric in 1/2 cup water. Also, a small enamel or steel saucepan (aluminum pans won't work!), vinegar (acetic acid), and white wool yard (not acrylic).

    Put some of a colored liquid, a few drops of vinegar and a 3-inch piece of the yarn into the pan and heat to boiling. Make sure that an adult is there to supervise this step. Lift out the yarn with a fork and rinse it in cold water. If the yarn is colored (dyed) after this boiling step, then the colored liquid contains an artificial dye made from coal tar.

    The protein in wool reacts with coal tar dyes in an acid environment (vinegar) to form a new stable substance via chemical bonding. Natural dyes do not form this bond with the wool and easily wash away with hot water. Now check your results against the food labels.   


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    May 1992