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. 

    Colorful Valentine's Flowers

    February, 2016: 

    Kids, Valentine’s day is right around the corner and the people who sell flowers look forward to this day all year long.  If you think about the colors of flowers you think of red, yellow, orange, pink, and white but other colors of the rainbow are not prevalent like green and blue.  Here is a way to make some of those colors appear in a flower. 

    You will need some white flowers and carnations work well – really any stemmed plant will work. 

    First, trim the flowers at the stalks.  Fill a vase or jar with water and add some food coloring of your choice (green or blue?).  Put your flowers in the water and wait.  Usually you can see effects within a few hours!

    The science:

    The reason this happens is because of something called the transpiration stream. This is the movement of water up the stem of a plant from root to leaf when water is lost from the plant due to evaporation occurring at the leaves. Firstly water is absorbed by the root and moves through root hair cells via the process of osmosis. It then moves into the xylem vessel which is the tube that carries the water up the plant. Plants are not like us with pumping mechanism that pushes our blood around, so water moves up the vessel by adhesion (being attracted to the side of the vessel) and cohesion (water molecules being attracted to each other – think of water molecules as people who are holding hands and as one person climbs up the side of a wall, they pull another along with them). Therefore when water evaporates from the top of the leaves it changes the pressure in the vessel and pulls up the column of water to replace the water lost.

    The best way to consider this is to imagine you have a thick shake – the straw can’t carry the shake up, but if you withdraw air from the top, you change the pressure and force the liquid shake up the straw where there is less pressure. It moves in a column because the molecules are attracted to each other.

    This is similar to a ChemShorts article from August 1993


    Paul Brandt