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 Do-It-Yourself "Milk" Shake

    Kids, in this activity you will learn how to make a thick - a very thick - liquid. It will be non-toxic, non-corrosive, cheap, and edible. It will, in fact, in many ways resemble a typical fast food restaurant milkshake.

    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 12 oz of water, and a tablespoon each of milk, chocolate syrup, and powdered xanthan gum. What in the world is xanthan gum and where do you find it? Most specialty health food stores and pharmacies should have some of this substance. When these ingredients are mixed in a blender for a few minutes, the result looks virtually indistinguishable from your local fast food shake. The taste won't be quite as good; however, you can add more syrup, or a touch of sugar or vanilla extract, and ice chips to make it closer.

    What's happening here? Xanthan gum is a synthetic carbohydrate polymer, similar to natural gums. It is one of many common thickening agents used as food additives. It forms what is called a "hydrophillic colloid", or small particles that can soak up amazing amounts of water. Other examples are agar, arabic gum, bentonite (a clay!), celluloses, and polyethylene glycol. Look on lists of ingredients to find these substances, especially on "fat free" or "reduced fat" alternatives (they replace the smoothness of the fat). You may also find carrageenan, a polysaccharide derived from seaweed. Rumor has it that this is what is really used in those fast food shakes - so much for the actual amount of "milk" in them!


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


    Reference: Larry Lippman on the internet at: