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. 

    Magic Sand

    Kids, have you ever built a sand castle at the beach? The sand "wets" easily with water to make a nice packing mud. Beach sand is mostly made of the mineral quartz (a form of silica, SiO2) that is broken into tiny pieces. In the jargon of chemistry, the surface of sand is said to be hydrophilic, or water-loving. But there is another type of sand that behaves very differently. "Magic" sand is coated with even smaller particles of chemically treated silica. This special surface treatment makes the sand hydrophobic, or water-hating. So what does this mean? Instead of sinking in water like beach sand, magic sand will float. A thick layer of magic sand will eventually sink, but it is surrounded by a silvery layer that is actually an air pocket. The clump can be molded underwater into any desired shape by hand. When taken back out of water, these sand grains are not clumped and are perfectly dry!

    Magic sand was developed by chemists at Cabot Corp. with the idea that it could be used to cleanse water of oily contamination. Many materials that are water-hating, like magic sand, are oil-loving. When sprinkled on an oil slick, magic sand attaches to the oil, adds weight, and sinks. This theoretically allows oil to be dredged from the bottom and saves the coasts from an oil slick. It has also been tested by utility companies in the Arctic. When a junction box is covered with magic sand, buried lines can be serviced easily because the dirt does not freeze and remains dry and loose year round. Other proposed uses: a surface for horse-racing tracks, in golf course sand traps, in children's sandboxes, and around the foundations of homes.

    There is a product available in toy stores called Sqand (RoseArt), for ages 6+, that is based on the principle of magic sand if you would 

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



    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    April 1998


    Reference: ChemMatters, April 1994, "Magic Sand" by D. Robson.