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. 

    The Colors of Light

    Kids, why does the light from the sun make rainbows some of the time but not all of the time? It is because raindrops in the air can break up the sun's light into the different colors of light that we can see in a rainbow. You may have seen a rainbow on a day when the sun came out while rain was still falling. You may also have seen one at a waterfall where the water splashed up into a mist, or even in the water from a lawn sprinkler on a sunny day. In this activity, you can try making your own rainbow show! All you need is an adult partner, a garden hose, and a sunny day.

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

    With your adult partner, turn on a hose and make a fine spray using a nozzle or your thumb. Move so that you are looking at the water with the sun behind you. Spray harder or softer and higher or lower until you see a rainbow. Try changing your position so that the sun hits your water from a different angle. Or try having your partner spray the water while you view from different angles and distances. If you are successful, note the order of the colors.

    Light is an electromagnetic wave of energy. Some electromagnetic waves have higher energies than others. The whole range is called the electromagnetic spectrum. Waves in this spectrum include X-rays, microwaves, radio waves, visible light, and others. The waves of visible light, which is what we can see, are in the middle of this spectrum. Their energies are lower than those of X-rays, but higher than those of microwaves and radio waves. The colors appear in order according to their energy. From the lowest energy to the highest energy the colors appear as

    red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

    Remember it as Roy G. Biv. The waves just beyond red and out of sight are called infrared, while the waves just beyond violet and also out of sight are called ultraviolet. Now that you are done with your lesson, I'm sure that you can think of another way to really enjoy that garden spray in our hot Chicago summer!


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    August-September 1995


    Reference: WonderScience 1995, vol. 9, number 4.