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. 

    Floating Peanuts


    Fern the Duck catches peanuts
    She eats them in a wink.
    She has to catch them quickly,
    Or else the peanuts sink.
    Fern can give some good advice
    That slower ducks should note.
    Moving to saltwater helps,
    'Cause there the peanuts float!

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

    Kids, here's how you can test Fern's theory for yourself. Use masking tape and a pencil to label two clear plastic cups as "fresh water" and "salt water". Add water to each cup until 3/4 full. Add 6 teaspoons of table salt to the salt water cup and mix with a spoon for a few minutes. Add a peanut (the kind that is already shelled) to each cup, and observe what happens. You should see Fern's theory in action: the peanut in the fresh water will instantly sink while the peanut in the salt water will float. In fact it will float all night! Objects float if they're lighter than the amount of liquid that they displace, or push aside. They sink if they're heavier. Fern's peanuts are heavier than the fresh water that they displace, so they sink. Dissolving salt in fresh water makes the same amount of liquid heavier, allowing the peanut to float. It's the same reason that you float more easily in the ocean than in a lake!


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


    Taken From: Apples, Bubbles, and Crystals: Your Science ABCs, by A. Bennett & J. Kessler, 1996, McGraw Hill, NY.