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. 

    A Homemade Fire Extinguisher

    Kids, can you guess what carbon dioxide gas will do to the flame from a candle? Here is how to check your guess. You will need a wide-mouth bottle or jar (or a 250 ml beaker), 3-4 teaspoons of baking soda, 1/4 cup vinegar, a birthday candle, a square of cardboard that will fit inside the jar, matches, and tongs.

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

    Light the candle and drip some wax onto the cardboard square. Blow out the candle and position it in the hot wax until it stands alone. Place the candle on its base inside the jar. Spread the baking soda around the base of the candle. Light the candle again, using tongs to hold the match. Carefully pour the vinegar down the side of the jar. What do you see happening?

    The reaction between vinegar (weak acetic acid solution in water, HC2H3O2 ) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3 ) produces carbon dioxide gas (CO2 ). The candle cannot continue to burn in a carbon dioxide atmosphere because fires needs oxygen to burn, so the flame is extinguished! This activity is a variation of the common baking soda-vinegar volcano.


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    June 1994