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. 

    Popcorn Science

    Kids, have you ever wondered exactly what's behind the popping of popcorn? Here we will demonstrate that both heat and the moisture inside popcorn kernels are necessary for making a perfect bowl of popcorn. You will first need to have an adult partner dry out 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels by placing a single layer on a tray in an oven at 190 degrees overnight.

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

    Pop exactly 1/4 cup of fresh popcorn in a hot air popcorn popper, and then do the same with the dried kernels. Measure the volume of each of your results. Some kitchens have large glass measuring cups than can be used for this, or else just use similar sized bowls or drinking cups and "eyeball it".

    The fresh popcorn should produce a larger volume of popped corn. Popcorn is mostly starch and water. As the kernel is heated, the water inside turns to steam. So much steam pressure can build up inside the kernel that the outer layer finally cannot hold it back and the kernel explodes. The starch expands into the familiar white substance that we have all come to know as popcorn. So now can you guess why the dried kernels resulted in a lower volume? Most of their moisture was evaporated beforehand, slowly and intentionally, so that there was not enough left to explode the kernel as much.

    If you like, you can try different brands of popcorn to see which one gives the highest volume of product. Also try popping old and fresh popcorn of the same brand. Cleaning up from this experiment can be summed up in one word: Enjoy!


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    April 1995


    Reference: Phil Parratore inWacky Science: A Cookbook for Elementary Teachers, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co. (Dubuque, Iowa), 1994, page 104.