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. 

    Green Blobs from Steel Wool

    Kids, our purpose in this experiment is to make a green, jelly-like blob from mixing two liquids. One liquid is made by dissolving steel wool. You will need vinegar, steel wool (pure - no soap), household ammonia, and 2 small baby food jars.

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

    Fill one jar half way with steel wool. Add enough vinegar to cover the steel wool and close the jar. Write IRON ACETATE on the side of the glass. You will have to be patient and let this jar stand undisturbed for five days. Then pour one tablespoon of your liquid Iron Acetate into the second jar. Add one tablespoon of household ammonia and stir. What happens? A dark green, glutinous material forms immediately.

    The iron in the steel wool combines with the vinegar (weak acetic acid) to produce iron acetate. The active component of household ammonia is a compound called ammonium hydroxide. A chemical reaction occurs as soon as these two liquids combine. So, ammonium hydroxide + iron acetate make ammonium acetate + iron hydroxide. Note that what happens is really just an exchange of materials. The same ingredients of ammonium, iron, hydroxide, and acetate are present, but their recombination produces a totally different product. In fact, two liquids (solutions of iron acetate and ammonium hydroxide) have reacted to form a new phase - your gel!

    (Safety concerns are typical: no eating, wash any skin contact with water, and dispose of materials down the sink with water.)


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


    Reference: Janice VanCleave's "Chemistry for Every Kid" 1989, p.102.