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. 

    My Cup Overflows

    February 2016:

    Here’s the challenge: Fill a glass with water as full as you can without it spilling over. How many paperclips do you think you can add before the water spills over the rim of the glass?


    - Box of paper clips or a lot of pennies
    - Drinking glass
    - Dishwashing soap

    You will find that you can add a whole lot of paperclips before the water overflows. Challenge your parent, sibling or friend to the same experiment but for theirs add a drop of dishwashing soap (but don’t let them see you) before they start adding the paperclips. They will find that they are not able to add nearly as many paperclips as you were.

    What’s happening?

    Water is one of the most polar liquids that we know of. What does that mean and why is that important? Water has a positive end and a negative end, not unlike a magnet. What happens when you put a bunch of magnets together? They all stick together. Water is like that – it’s like the water molecules are holding hands and the water molecules at the surface aren’t letting go of their partners and keeping them from falling over the edge. This is called cohesion. By adding the drop of soap to the water, you break some of that cohesion and the water has less surface tension.


    This experiment is related to the June 2006 ChemShorts article of the Bulletin entitled “Pepper Tension”

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

    Paul Brandt