A Student “Bully” Demonstrates the Polar Covalent Bond

Written by Jennifer Wiatrowski, Pasco-Hernando Community College

Learning Outcomes:

– To help students visualize the relationship that exists between atoms in a polar covalent bond

Activity Description: Three students use paper to demonstrate how electrons are equally shared in non-polar covalent bonds and unevenly shared in polar covalent bonds. This works well in a class of any size.

Time Needed: A few minutes

Materials Needed: Five pieces of paper and 3 students

Activity Instructions: I usually look for a large male student to be “oxygen” and then two smaller students to be “hydrogen.”  I have the students stand in a row with oxygen in the center. Between each hydrogen and the oxygen, I have them hold a piece of paper with two large dots on it. These represent the shared pairs of electrons. I have them start out holding the electron pairs at equal distance from one another (like in a non-polar relationship). But, then I tell oxygen to be the “bully” and pull those electrons closer to his body. I then hold signs over their heads indicating partial positive and partial negative charges. (A more creative person could probably come up with some funny hats representing the charges for the students to wear.)

Author: Instructor Exchange

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill