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. 

    An Active Volcano

    Kids, how would you like to make your own version of an erupting volcano? These directions are for a rather large one, so you can scale it down if that is more convenient. You will need a large quantity of modeling clay, 1 tablespoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), 1 cup of vinegar (acetic acid), and red food coloring. Make a mountain out of the modeling clay in a large pan, tray, tub or tank. The mountain should be about 1 foot in diameter at the bottom, about 3 or 4 inches in diameter at the top, and about 1 foot high. Then make a hole going down from the top into the mountain, about 2 inches in diameter at the top but wider inside the mountain. Be certain it is deep enough and wide enough to hold the whole cup of vinegar.

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

    Mix about 5 drops of red food coloring in the vinegar to make the "lava" orange, and pour it into the volcano. Now drop in the 1 tbsp. of baking soda, sit back, and watch it foam and froth. What it happening chemically? The acetic acid (CH3COOH) is mixing with the sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3 ) to make carbon dioxide gas (CO2 ), water (H2O), and sodium acetate (NaC2H3O2 ). For the older kids, this is a "double replacement" reaction. It's the CO2 that makes the solution foam.

    A variation on the volcano is to actually build it out of dirt, shaping moist dirt around an empty soda bottle and filling the bottle with the vinegar and baking soda. Or you can shape the clay around the bottle. Please read a bit about volcanos now to learn how real ones work. Look in an encyclopedia, ask a scientist, check out a book from your library, or cruise the internet!


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    January 1997


    References: "Chemistry for Every Kid" by Janice VanCleave (p. 76) and the La Jolla Country Day School web page: