Properties of Water 1
Properties of Water
What Makes Water So Special?
When you hear that NASAs space probes are looking for “evidence of life” on other planets, do you know
what that means? They are looking for evidence of liquid water. Water is fundamental for all life; without
it every living thing would die. Water covers about 70% of Earths surface and it makes up 65–75% of our
bodies (82% of our blood is water). Even if water might seem boring to you—no color, taste, or smell—it
has amazing properties that make it necessary for supporting life.
Model 1 – The Molecular Structure of Water
Covalent Bond
= electron presence
Electron density model of H
1. How many hydrogen atoms are in a molecule of water?
2. How many oxygen atoms are in a molecule of water?
3. What holds the hydrogen atoms to the oxygen atom?
4. The shading around the molecule represents the relative density of electrons shared by the atoms.
What does this indicate about the density of electrons around the oxygen atom as compared to
the density of electrons around the hydrogen atoms?
5. Where is the majority of negative charge on the water molecule?
covalent bonds
The oxygen atom has a slight negative charge-
electrons are attracted to it. It ismore dense around the oxygen atom and less dense around the hydrogen atoms.
in the oxygen atom
Activities for High School Biology
Model 2 – Attraction of Water Molecules
Weak attraction
6. Looking at your answers to Questions 1 and 2 from Model 1, tell what atoms are represented by:
a. The small, unshaded circles in Model 2.
b. The larger gray shaded circles in Model 2.
7. What do the solid lines between the small and large circles represent?
8. According to Model 2, what is represented by the dotted lines?
9. Remember that electrons in a water molecule are more dense around the oxygen atom and less
dense around the hydrogen atoms.
a. What kind of charge would the oxygen atom have compared to the hydrogen atoms?
b. What kind of charge would the hydrogen atoms have compared to the oxygen?
10. Describe the arrangement of the water molecules in Model 2 with one another.
11. Describe the cause of the attractions between molecules of water.
12. If another water molecule was added to the group in Model 2 at the upper right side, which of
its atoms would be connected to the existing molecule with a dotted line? Describe your groups
hydrogen atoms
oxygen atoms
covalent bonds
Properties of Water 3
Read This!
The bonding electrons in some molecules are not equally shared between the atoms. These neutral
molecules with a difference of charge across the molecule are called polar molecules. Because of the
arrangement of the atoms and electrons in a water molecule, there are two differently charged areas of the
molecule even though the molecule is neutral overall. The hydrogen molecules are slightly positive, while
the oxygen is slightly negative. The positive area charge (hydrogen) of one water molecule is attracted
to the negative area (oxygen) of a different water molecule. This weak attraction is often referred to as
hydrogen bonding.
13. In the space below, draw 10 water molecules to create a cluster. Be sure to indicate the hydrogen
bonds that link the water molecules.
Activities for High School Biology
Extension Questions
14. Other polar molecules include nucleic acids and some proteins.
Look at the DNA sketch provided and predict how the two
strands are attracted to one another.
15. Some molecules that are covalently bonded do not have a difference in charge across the mol-
ecule. These molecules are referred to as nonpolar. What arrangement of electrons would result
in a nonpolar molecule?
16. Some examples of nonpolar molecules include fats, oils, and waxes. How do these substances
interact with water?
17. What prediction would you make about why oil and water interact in the way described above?
Hydrogen bonds