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 Rock Tester

    Kids, in this activity you can pretend to be a geologist and test some rocks and other natural materials using a common chemical method.

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

    You'll need a small sampling of rocks, making sure that some of them are limestone or marble, chalk, a few seashells, vinegar and/or lemon juice, and some clear plastic cups. Put the seashells in one cup, each rock in it's own cup, and a piece of chalk in a cup. Label each of them if necessary, especially to keep track of the rocks. Pour the lemon juice or vinegar over each material and note what happens. You should see bubbles form on some of the materials, although not from all of the rocks.

    What's happening here? Vinegar and lemon juice are both weak, dilute acids (acetic acid and citric acid, respectively). Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound found in many natural materials, such as limestone and seashells. When calcium carbonate is exposed to acid, it chemically changes into new materials. One of these is carbon dioxide gas, which form the bubbles that you observe in the cup. When limestone is exposed to great heat and pressure under the earth's surface for many years, it turns into marble. It is still calcium carbonate and that is why marble will form bubbles with acid also. You get similar results when using chalk because it, too, is made of limestone. 


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


    Reference: "Earth Science for Every Kid" by Janice VanCleave, NY: Wiley Publ., 1991, p. 32 and "Simple Science Experiments with Everyday Materials" by Muriel Mandell, NY: Sterling, 1990, p. 54.