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 Art of Bleaching

    Kids, people use liquid laundry bleach to remove unwanted color, in other words stains, from clothes. This bleach is a 5% solution of sodium hypochlorite in water. It also removes color from other materials and we will use this today to produce some interesting effects. First of all though, you must do this with an adult partner because of the care that must be taken when handling bleach. So get your adult partner, a bottle of laundry bleach, colored construction paper, spoons, brushes, cotton swabs, steel wool, and drinking glasses.

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

    The colors of construction paper quickly disappear with the application of bleach. The trick is to apply and spread bleach in a manner that will result in an artistic pattern. Pour a small amount of bleach into a glass, and then experiment with different applicators, such as a spoon, brush, and cotton swab. Spread the bleach around on the paper by folding, tilting, and blowing through a straw. A little bit of bleach goes a long way, and you'll be able to see the patterns almost immediately. Let your work of art dry before hanging it up for all to see.

    In this case the bleaching action can also be called an "oxidizing" reaction. You can prove that oxygen is made from bleach by putting two small balls of steel wool (of the same size) into two different glasses. Cover them with equal amounts of water. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to each glass, and then to just one of them also add a tablespoon of bleach. After about half an hour the steel wool without bleach should be unchanged, but the ball with the bleach should be very rusty. Rust is iron (from the steel wool) that has combined with oxygen in the presence of water. While iron rusts easily, it happens very quickly here because the bleach is producing so much oxygen!

    [SAFETY NOTES: Do not leave children unattended while working with bleach. Do not let the bleach come into contact with skin or eyes; if it does flush immediately with large amounts of water. Thoroughly clean or dispose of all materials that came in contact with bleach.]


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


    Reference: Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science, by Don Herbert, Random House: NY, 1980, pg. 45.