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. 

    Crystal Cubes and Needles

    Kids, did you ever want to grow your own crystals? This experiment will show you how to make crytals with different shapes.  

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

    You will need 2 saucers, 2 sheets of dark construction paper, 2 baby food jars with lids, epsom salt, and ordinary table salt. Fill the jars half-full with water. Add 2 tablespoons of epsom salts to one jar, and 1-1/2 tablespoons table salt to the other jar. Secure the lids, shake vigorously 60 times each, and then let them settle for several minutes. Cut circles from the paper to fit inside the saucers. Separately, pour thin layers of the salt solutions over the separate pieces of paper; try not to pour out any of the undissolved salts. Place them in a warm place and wait several days, observing daily.

    On the paper wet with the table salt (sodium chloride) solution, you should see small, white, cubic crystals that increase in size each day. Sodium chloride salt crystals have a cubic shape. You should see long, slender, needle-shaped crystals on the paper wet with the epsom salt solution. "Epsom salts" is the common name for this chemical, but it is also called magnesium sulfate. When epsom salts are packaged, the needles of magnesium sulfate are first crushed. By dissolving in water and then allowing for slow evaporation, the needles and cubes are given the chance to build in size.   


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


    Reference: "Chemistry for Every Kid" by Janice VanCleave, Wiley: NY, 1989.