The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Affordable pricing from £10/month

Explain Giant Ionic Structures

In this worksheet, students will connect the structure and properties of giant ionic compounds, and recognise different ways of representing their structures.

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Once we know how atoms bond together in compounds, we can understand why the compounds have the properties they do. In this activity, you will learn what ionic compounds are like, and why.

In ionic compounds, metal atoms lose electrons to become positively charged ions, and non-metal atoms gain electrons to become negatively charged ions. Positive and negative charges attract each other, so we get ionic bonds holding the ions together. Positive attracts negative, negative attracts positive, and so on. The only thing that stops the pattern is when you run out of atoms. Since the structure can have many many millions of atoms in it, we call it a giant structure. Giant ionic structures are crystaline, because they have a repeating pattern.

In this picture, there are equal numbers of Na (purple) and Cl ions (green), so we can tell that the formula of the structure is NaCl.

Different people draw the same structures in slightly different ways. In a space-filling diagram (like the NaCl picture), we have a realistic picture of the size of the different ions and how they bond. Unfortunately, it's hard to see all the atoms, because some are hidden. In a ball-and-stick model, we shrink the atoms (the balls) and link them by bonds (the sticks). We can then see more of the atoms more clearly through the gaps. To really visualise the structure, it's even better to look at a model or a computer animation. The next picture shows zinc sulfide- as a ball-and-stick model; zinc is blue, and sulfur is yellow.

All ionic compounds have these properties:
They have high melting and boiling temperatures. This is because there are strong ionic bonds in all directions. To break these bonds, large amounts of energy is needed, which comes from high temperatures.
Most ionic compounds dissolve in water. This happens because water weakens the electrostatic bonds holding positive and negative ions together.
Solid ionic compounds are insulators (they don't conduct electricity). Although the ions carry charge, their positions are fixed in the crystal structure, so they can't move.
Molten ionic compounds can conduct electricity, because the ions in a liquid can move. When they move, they carry electrical charge with them.
If ionic compounds dissolve in water, the resulting solution also conducts electricity. 

When you think about giant ionic structures, remember that they are made of positive and negative ions. The properties of giant ionic structures work because there are strong forces between the ions, which stop ions moving. However, we can use water to weaken those bonds, which makes a solution where the ions move around easily in the water.

When metal atoms lose electrons, they make positive ions.

Now complete this sentence;

When non-metal atoms...

Why is a giant structure a good way to describe ionic compound structures?

They have large ions

They have many ions

They have many large ions

Which of these explain why giant ionic structures have high melting temperatures?

there are strong bonds in all directions

The ions are large

A large amount of energy is needed to break the bonds

What is the advantage of drawing ionic compounds as ball and stick models?

They are more accurate

They are more scientific

It's easier to see all the atoms

We can make the atoms different colours

What is the name for a material which doesn't conduct electricity?

Which of these explain why giant ionic structures are electrical insulators?

They are made of ions

The ions cannot move

The ions are uncharged

How does water affect ionic bonds?

strengthen them

weaken them

break them

Suppose you have a substance which has a high melting point, does not conduct electricity as a solid, and does not dissolve in water. Is it an ionic compound?

yes

no

maybe

Why can sea water conduct electricity, when pure water can't?

Sea water is lighter than pure water

Sea water is more natural than pure water

Sea water contains ions, and pure water doesn't

Complete this paragraph, using these words:

conduct

high

metals

strong

Sea water is lighter than pure water

Sea water is more natural than pure water

Sea water contains ions, and pure water doesn't

  • Question 1

When metal atoms lose electrons, they make positive ions.

Now complete this sentence;

When non-metal atoms...

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Non-metal ions do the opposite of metal ions. That means that they gain (negatively charged) electrons, so become negatively charged.
  • Question 2

Why is a giant structure a good way to describe ionic compound structures?

CORRECT ANSWER
They have many ions
EDDIE SAYS
The ions are tiny, but there are lots of them, which is why we talk about giant structures.
  • Question 3

Which of these explain why giant ionic structures have high melting temperatures?

CORRECT ANSWER
there are strong bonds in all directions
A large amount of energy is needed to break the bonds
EDDIE SAYS
The key thing is the meaning of \"strong bonds\"; strong bonds need lots of energy to break them.
  • Question 4

What is the advantage of drawing ionic compounds as ball and stick models?

CORRECT ANSWER
It's easier to see all the atoms
EDDIE SAYS
The big advantage of the ball-and-spoke diagram is that we can see through the gaps, so we can see more of the structure.
  • Question 5

What is the name for a material which doesn't conduct electricity?

CORRECT ANSWER
insulator
electrical insulator
EDDIE SAYS
You will see this word used a lot, so make sure you know what it means.
  • Question 6

Which of these explain why giant ionic structures are electrical insulators?

CORRECT ANSWER
The ions cannot move
EDDIE SAYS
Ions are always charged; that\'s what makes them ions. The key thing is that the ions are in fixed positions, so they can\'t carry electricity anywhere.
  • Question 7

How does water affect ionic bonds?

CORRECT ANSWER
weaken them
EDDIE SAYS
Although many ionic compounds dissolve in water, not all of them do. That means that water doesn\'t break all ionic bonds.
  • Question 8

Suppose you have a substance which has a high melting point, does not conduct electricity as a solid, and does not dissolve in water. Is it an ionic compound?

CORRECT ANSWER
maybe
EDDIE SAYS
This substance might be ionic (not all ionic compounds dissolve in water), but the bonding could be covalent as well. In this case, we don't know for sure.
  • Question 9

Why can sea water conduct electricity, when pure water can't?

CORRECT ANSWER
Sea water contains ions, and pure water doesn't
EDDIE SAYS
The reason sea water tastes salty is because sodium chloride is dissolved in it. The sodium and chloride ions can move through the water, which makes electrical conduction possible.
  • Question 10

Complete this paragraph, using these words:

conduct

high

metals

strong

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This paragraph has the really key points about ionic compounds. The bonds between ions are strong, so the ions can\'t move.
---- OR ----

Sign up for a £1 trial so you can track and measure your child's progress on this activity.

What is EdPlace?

We're your National Curriculum aligned online education content provider helping each child succeed in English, maths and science from year 1 to GCSE. With an EdPlace account you’ll be able to track and measure progress, helping each child achieve their best. We build confidence and attainment by personalising each child’s learning at a level that suits them.

Get started
laptop

Start your £1 trial today.
Subscribe from £10/month.