Public Engagement and Outreach


Both faculty members and students in the Department of Chemistry are active in bringing an understanding and an enthusiasm for chemistry to the adjoining communities. Listed below are some of the projects in which they participate.

"Bonding with Chemistry": A Day Camp for Girls

An annual day camp held each summer for girls in 5th through 8th grade to promote interest in science.  Activities and experiments include using science to make art and toys, investigating the earth and environment, exploring the chemistry of food and decorating t-shirts. Supported by ACS and Illinois Chemistry.


Encouraging Tomorrow's Chemists (ETC)

ETC collaborates with the Urbana Middle School faculty. University of Illinois graduate student volunteers prepare and direct three labs that explore with the students the nature of matter and the special chemistry of chemiluminescence and polymers. Approximately 350 students from 13 science classes participate in this three-day event.


Holiday Magic Chemistry Demonstration Show

Our popular Holiday Magic chemistry demonstration show takes place every December. Produced by chemistry teaching faculty and students, this family-friendly, free event demonstrates chemistry principles in a fun and approachable way.


Illinois Science Olympiad

The Department of Chemistry has participated in hosting the Illinois Science Olympiad in many past years. Graduate student volunteers design and judge events at the regional and state middle and high school competitions. Approximately 1500 students from 50 schools participate in these one-day competitions.

Orpheum Children's Science Museum Weekend Wizards

The Orpheum Children's Science Museum offers the Weekend Wizards program every Saturday afternoon. Programs are free for children who are members of the museum, and cover topics ranging from the stars to recycling. Students and organizations at the University of Illinois participate in providing these programs. For more information, click the link above to visit the Orpheum Children's Science Museum Weekend Wizards website! Other activities for children are available at the Orpheum.

Project SEARCH (Science Education and Research for Children)

Groups of 2 to 3 University of Illinois students enrolled in CHEM 199S develop lesson plans and decide with the elementary school teachers what subjects to teach. They visit Urbana or Champaign classrooms 2 hours a week for a semester. This class targets K-5 classrooms.

R.E.A.C.T. (Reaching and Educating America's Chemists of Tomorrow)

The REACT Program is a civic engagement program offered by the School of Chemical Sciences and the Department of Chemistry that began in Fall 2002. It has grown into the largest outreach program of its kind at the University of Illinois. Through the dedication and innovations of the undergraduate staff, the program continues to expand, delivering a variety of programs to many different facets of the communities in East Central Illinois. REACT enlists nearly 400 volunteers per semester to visit every grade school within a 30 mile radius of campus. The mission is to promote hands-on learning of chemistry with local youngsters. REACT also works with groups like the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club, the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, the Girl Scouts, and, the Champaign home-schooling groups. Last semester alone the REACT Program reached over 3,000 youngsters!