New
New
Year 10
Edexcel
Higher

Bonding to carbon atoms

I can describe how each carbon atom can form up to four covalent bonds with up to four non-metal atoms.

New
New
Year 10
Edexcel
Higher

Bonding to carbon atoms

I can describe how each carbon atom can form up to four covalent bonds with up to four non-metal atoms.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. Carbon atoms will form up to four covalent bonds (as they will fill their outer shell with four more electrons).
  2. Carbon atoms can combine with other non-metal atoms to make a wide range of molecules, some with chains and rings.
  3. An organic compound contains two or more elements (including carbon).
  4. A lot of organic compounds also include hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.
  5. Organic compounds can be found both in nature, but also produced synthetically.

Common misconception

Atoms are often anthropomorphised, described as 'wanting' full shells. This implies intent and oversimplifies chemical bonding.

Focus on the tendency of atoms to fill their outer shell to 8 electrons to become stable. Emphasise carbon atoms do this by sharing electrons in covalent bonds.

Keywords

  • Octet rule - The tendency for atoms to fill their outer shell to 8 electrons to become stable. This occurs through chemical bonding, and results in the electron configuration of a noble gas.

  • Covalent bond - The strong electrostatic attraction between a shared pair of electrons and the nuclei of the bonded atoms.

  • Molecule - A particle consisting of a fixed number of (two or more) non-metal atoms covalently bonded together.

  • Organic compound - A chemical compound in which one or more atoms of carbon are covalently linked to atoms of other elements, most commonly hydrogen, oxygen, or nitrogen.

Use of molecular modelling kits, either as a demo, or as a classroom resource will help students visualise the four "spaces" carbon atoms have to form four bonds.
Teacher tip

Licence

This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).

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6 Questions

Q1.
Select the diagram that shows ionic bonding.
Correct answer: sodium chloride (NaCl)
methane (CH₄)
lithium (Li)
Q2.
In a dot and cross diagram, what do the dots and crosses represent?
different elements
protons and neutrons
Correct answer: electrons from different atoms
ionic and covalent bonds
positive and negative charges
Q3.
Which type of bonding involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms?
ionic bonding
Correct answer: covalent bonding
metallic bonding
Q4.
The number of outer shell electrons in a carbon atom is ...
2.
Correct answer: 4.
6.
12.
Q5.
A molecule is ...
an atom with a full outer shell.
a group of ions bonded together.
a group of atoms bonded ionically.
Correct answer: a group of atoms bonded covalently.
a single atom.
Q6.
Which of the following substances are classed as covalent molecules?
Correct answer: carbon dioxide (CO₂)
Correct answer: water (H₂O)
potassium nitrate (KNO₃)
iron (Fe)
neon (Ne)

6 Questions

Q1.
How many covalent bonds can a carbon atom typically form?
Correct Answer: 4, four
Q2.
Which of the following best defines a covalent bond?
attraction between opposite charges
shared electrons
transfer of electrons from one atom to another
bond between non-metal atoms
Correct answer: electrostatic attraction between nuclei and shared pair of electrons
Q3.
What is an organic compound?
A compound containing only carbon and hydrogen.
A compound found in living organisms.
Correct answer: A compound with carbon atoms covalently bonded to other elements.
A naturally occurring compound.
A synthetic compound.
Q4.
A is a particle consisting of a fixed number of non-metal atoms covalently bonded together.
Correct Answer: molecule
Q5.
In a covalent bond, what is being shared between atoms?
Correct Answer: electrons, electron
Q6.
True or false? Carbon atoms in organic compounds can form only straight chain and branched chain structures.
true
Correct answer: false