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. 

    Aluminum Trivia

    Kids, let's explain why chewing an aluminum foil spitball can really hurt some people, while for others it is just a weird piece of gum. 

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

    The difference is because some of us have silver fillings in our teeth. It turns out that aluminum atoms lose their electrons very easily. In the presence of our mildly acidic saliva, which acts as a catalyst, we have what amounts to a crude electric battery. Electrons flow from the aluminum to the silver amalgam filling. The current is felt by the nerves of our teeth and causes a downright unpleasant zing!

    Aluminum foil will begin to decompose in the presence of many other acidic substances in a process called oxidation. Acids like to oxidize obliging metals. Some common acidic foods include ketchup which has a pH of 3.8 (7 is neutral), or a cola soda which is even more acidic with a pH of 2.7. Tell any cooks you know to never wrap a meatloaf glazed with ketchup or tomato sauce in aluminum foil for storage. After several hours the result of this contact is a grayish-black disgusting mush of aluminum oxide.

    Brainteaser: why doesn't a full aluminum cola can dissolve? Chemistry solves that problem, too. The inside of the can is coated with a harmless but effective protective surface made up of long molecules called polymers (in short, a plastic coating).


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


    Reference: (from p. 121 of The Straight Dope by Cecil Adams, 1984).