Chemical Bonding Lab Activities

Written by jennifer leigh
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Chemical Bonding Lab Activities
Marshmallows are used to represent chemical bonds visually. (marshmallow image by wally from

A chemical bond is a link between electrons due to a mutual attraction. Ionic bonds are a type of chemical bond in which the electrons are either given or received because of attraction whereas a covalent bond requires the sharing of electrons between two atoms. In lab activities both of these types of bonds should be covered in order to provide a full view of the bonding process. There are many creative lab ideas that can help students gain a visual representation of the chemical bonding process.

Edible Bonding

The purpose of this lab activity is to be able to visualise chemical bonding with regards to the angles, multiple bonds, and lone pairs of ions. This activity utilises small and large coloured marshmallows, red-hot candies, gumdrops, and toothpicks. Students will first make a water molecule out of one large marshmallow, representing the O, a small marshmallow representing the Hs, and a lone pair using red-hot candies. An ammonia molecule will be created using the same ideas, with a large marshmallow for the N. Other molecules of interest, including methane, ethane, and nitrogen, should be created as time allows. Where multiple bonds exist, students should be directed to use multiple toothpicks. Sketches of each molecule should be drawn after the edible one is completed.

Molecular Yarn Art

Students will explore molecular geometry while making yarn art projects utilising multicoloured yarn, file folders, O-ring adhesive, scissors, pencils, and molecular formulas of various molecules that have been drawn on index cards and provided by a teacher. Students will get an index card of a molecule, sketch the molecular shape on a file folder and use O-ring adhesive to fill in all areas with yarn patterns. The teacher will provide a colour key to show which colour of yarn should stand for which element. For example, carbon may be blue whereas oxygen is red.

Post-Lab Questions

After completing these visual labs, students should be able to list and describe the various bond types, explain multiple bonds, and explain lone pairs and their relationship to a molecule. Students should also be able to draw these molecular formulas using a pencil and paper and using the correct geometric angles. After completing the edible bonding, laboratory students should be able to identify the most electromagnetic molecule out of the ones they have created. They should also be able to identify any confusion or problems that arose while completing the labs.

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