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. 

    Really Food Coloring

    Kids, did you know that you can draw pictures with fruits and vegetables, and that their colors can be changed using chemistry? 

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

    To do this activity you will need an assortment of foods such as a radish, red cabbage, a carrot, grape juice, and spinach leaves. You will also need a sheet of white construction paper, vinegar, a 50/50 solution of baking soda in water, and cotton swabs. Rub the skins of the foods onto the paper, making three circles of color for each food, and label them. Use a swab for the grape juice. Again using a swab, rub the vinegar onto one circle of each food and the baking soda solution onto the second circle. Leave the third circle alone as a control. What do you observe?

    Among other things, there are chemical compounds called "anthocyanins" in some plants. These compounds have different colors depending upon the strength of an acidic or basic solution. The vinegar (acetic acid) is a weak acid and the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) solution is a weak base. Because of their ability to change colors, anthocyanins are one kind of indicator for determining the strength of an acid or base. Your results should have showed you that radishes, red cabbage, and grape juice all contain anthocyanins. They are also present in the petals of red roses. The major pigment in many green plants is chlorophyll, while that in carrots is called carotene; these compounds do not act as indicators. Try other fruits, vegetables, or plants with your new chemical testing system!  


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


    Reference: Ann Benbow of ACS, Coordinator of Pre-High School Science Office, who presented this at the CHEERS/PACTS Workshop on 4/17/93 at W. Aurora H.S.