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. 

    Underwater Volcano

    April, 2016:  

    Kids, this is a demonstration of what occurs in the ocean and what would have occurred in the formation of some islands like Hawaii. This was inspired by the “3 Scientists Walk into a Bar” Facebook page:

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


    • colored wax pieces
    • water
    • sand
    • a hot plate, fifth burner, or stove-top
    • a colorless glass vessel that can be heated (Pyrex beaker?)

    You will certainly want the help of an adult on this.

    Try this:

    • Add several chunks of the wax, the total amount equivalent to a C battery, to the glass vessel.
    • Cover the wax completely with sand and add about an inch of sand above that.
    • Add water so that you have an inch of water above the sand.
    • Add heat. As heat is added, watch closely for the wax to escape through the surface of the sand.

    The sand represents the Earth’s crust and the water symbolizes the ocean, while the wax is like the molten magma (or lava once it escapes the Earth’s crust). Magma is a liquid because it resides below the Earth’s crust in the mantle of the Earth where the temperatures can be on the order of 700ºC to 1300ºC.

    As the wax melts it pushes up against the Earth’s crust and eventually creates a fissure or crack in the crust through which it can rise. The water (once it cools) will allow the liquid “lava” to cool and solidify. The “island” that you created is probably floating on the water. This would not be the case in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As soon as the lava hit the cold ocean water it would cool and solidify and the island would be built up from the fissure all the way to the ocean’s surface.

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