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. 

    YUK! Chemical Reactions in Your Mouth

    Kids, did you know that chemical reactions are going on all the time right in your mouth, especially when you chew? Let's see what happens to starch in our mouths.

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

    Cut two one-inch squares from a piece of white bread. Put one square in your mouth and chew it about 30 times, making an effort to mix as much saliva as possible with the bread. When the bread is nice and mushy, spit it out onto a piece of wax paper. Put the other dry piece of bread onto a separate piece of wax paper. Add four drops of tincture of iodine to each bread sample. What happens? The unchewed bread turns a dark blue-purple color. The chewed up bread-saliva mixture does not turn dark.

    Why? The starch in the bread combines with iodine to form iodine-starch molecules, which are blue-purple in color. Chewing the bread mixes it with saliva. This is where the chemical reaction occurred in your mouth: the large starch molecules were changed into completely different, smaller, sugar molecules. Sugar does not react with iodine in the same way that starch does. Chemists can use iodine as an "indicator" for starch. Try testing for starch in other foods, like a cracker, a piece of dry cereal, or a cookie!

    (Safety Tip: Do not eat anything that has the iodine in it).


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


    Reference: Janice VanCleave's "Chemistry for Every Kid" 1989, p.108.