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 Real Lifesaver


    Kids, did you have any idea that crushing certain lifesavers in your mouth can set off sparks? This experiment will demonstrate how light can be given off by a simple chemical reaction. All you need is a roll of wintergreen mint Life Savers® with the green-speckled centers, a very dark room, and a partner.

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

    With your partner in a dark room, crunch the mint with your teeth with your mouth open. Your partner should see sparks of light generated when you bite on the candy. Reverse the roles so that you can see the sparks in your partner's mouth. If your partner is an adult, have them hit the candy with a hammer on a hard surface to observe the same quality of sparks.

    What is going on here? When the candy is crushed, the friction of unlike charges (positive and negative, or + and -) causes loose particles called electrons to start a series of interactions between the nitrogen in the air, sugar, and candy molecules. This type of light is called triboluminescence.


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


    Reference: Wacky Science: A Cookbook for Elementary Teachers by Phil Parratore,1994, Kendall-Hall Publishing Co., Iowa, page 77.