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. 

    Tangled Molecules

    Kids, did you ever watch someone make spaghetti? If there are just a few cooked strands in a boiling pot of water, chances are they won't touch each other. But when a whole box is cooking the strands can't avoid touching each other. Some molecules are so long and skinny that they act like strands of spaghetti. In this experiment we will see how the long, skinny molecules called polymers can sometimes behave the same way.  

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

    To one-half cup of cold water add anywhere from 5 to 10 heaping tablespoons of household corn starch, one at a time with complete mixing each time. The amount varies with the quality of both the water and the cornstarch. You will know you have the right amount when the following tests work. Do you notice a difference between stirring very slowly and stirring faster, or between slowly lifting the spoon out and quickly pulling it out? How about putting your finger in slowly and touching the bottom of the bowl vs. jamming it in?

    The starch mix should act almost like a solid when confronted with a fast motion. This is because the long, skinny starch molecules are very crowded and get tangled up with each other. When a slower motion is used, the molecules have enough time to move out of the way of each other (just like spaghetti!). Disposal: The mix gets thicker on standing, so immediately after finishing pour it into a large bowl of water and wash down the drain with lots of water.


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    April 1993