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. 

    Bubble Gum Chemistry

    Kids, all you really have to do in this "experiment" is chew your favorite kind of gum for a while. Think about what you learn here while you are chewing...

    Bubble gum is a mixture of several chemicals, but rubber is the most important. A good bubble gum must be strong enough to stretch to a thin film without breaking, but still be soft enough to chew easily. That's a tall order. The other chemicals in bubble gum - resins, waxes, fillers, flavors, sugar, humectants, and emulsifiers - are all there either to provide flavor or to modify when and by how much the rubber stretches. Rubber molecules are polymers, which are long chain-like molecules formed when many smaller molecules bond together end to end. A natural polymer called latex, which is from trees, used to provide the stretchy part of bubble gum. Now many gum companies use a synthetic, food-grade version of the same rubber that goes into truck tires! This polymer is a mixture of styrene and butadiene and is abbreviated SBR.

    Of the 20 or so chemicals in bubble gum, some dissolve in water and some do not. Most of the water-insoluble portion of bubble gum is called "gum base". That's where the rubber is. Some of the additives in the gum base actually restrict the size to which the bubbles can be blown on purpose, so as not to completely alienate parents! The most intense fragrances and flavorings in fruits are often essential oils like limonene (which is from orange and lemon rinds). They are well suited to gums because they are not water soluble and do not dissolve out of gum in your mouth. Gum does seem to lose flavor after a while, but that is usually because the sugar, which intensifies the fruit flavor, has dissolved.

    Chemists must think of not only how the gum tastes and how big the bubbles get, but also how it feels in the mouth. It must soften without getting gooey, take up water without dissolving, and keep its flavor for as long as possible. On top of all that, it must not dry out on store shelves, should not stick to the wrapper, and be easy to work with in the factory. Chemists know how to tweak all the ingredients to make a formulation that is just right; who knew a simple thing like gum could be so complicated!


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    February 1996


    Reference: Gail Marsella, ChemMatters, October 1994 (American Chemical Society, 1155 16th St., N.W.; Washington, DC 20036).