Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

The Attraction Is REAL

Intermolecular Forces

K20 Center, Alexandra Parsons, Brittany Bowens, Kristin Zuromski | Published: May 27th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject Science
  • Course Course Chemistry, Physical Science
  • Time Frame Time Frame 4-5 class period(s)
  • Duration More 200 minutes


In this lesson, students will explore, learn, and connect concepts of Intermolecular Forces (IMFs) to physical phenomena. Prerequisite knowledge would be that bonding exists (that is, there is continuum from non-polar covalent to ionic bonding) as well as the formation of ions and electron configuration. This lesson has add-ons to make it effective for AP Chemistry as well.

Essential Question(s)

How do the interactions between molecules affect chemical properties? 



Students will determine how many paper clips can fit inside of a full glass of water.


Students will investigate different intermolecular forces using the Jigsaw strategy.


Students will present their Jigsaw findings.


Students will classify phenomena into the different intermolecular forces.


Students will share out their answers from the Extend in an inverted pyramid.


  • Lesson Slides-The Attraction is REAL

  • Engage Paper Clip Activity-The Attraction Is Real (attached, one per student)

  • Explore IMF Research Questions-The Attraction Is Real (attached, one per student)

  • Explain Claim Cards-The Attraction Is Real (attached, one per group)

  • Explain Claim Cards KEY-The Attraction Is Real (attached)

  • Explain-Cornell Notes—The Attraction Is Real (attached, one per student)

  • Extend Teacher Set Up-The Attraction Is Real (attached)

  • Small plastic cups (dixie would be fine); enough for a class set (Engage)

  • Water (Engage and Extend)

  • Paperclips; enough for each group to have well over 100 paperclips (Engage)

  • Devices with computer access (Explore)

  • All the supplies for Extend (see teacher handout for specifics)


10 Minute(s)

Make copies and pass out the Paper Clip Activity handout. Put students in groups of 3-5. Each group will need a small plastic cup filled to the brim with water, and hundreds of paper clips.

Go to slide 4, instruct students to make a hypothesis about how many paper clips can fit into the very full glass of water before the water spills over the cup. Then tell the students to add the paperclips SLOWLY to the full glass of water.

Go to slide 5, ask the students to revisit their original hypothesis and revise it based on what they observed.


30 Minute(s)

Split the students into four groups so that a modified Jigsaw can start. *If this is an AP Chemistry class, five, maybe six, groups would be needed*

Assign each group one of the following:

  • Hydrogen Bonding

  • London Dispersion Forces

  • Dipole-Dipole

  • Induced Dipole

  • *Ionic Bonding (for AP Chemistry; yes, it is a bond, but it is technically a very strong intramolecular force without the merging of electron clouds, something AP Chem students need to grasp)

  • *Van der Waals forces (for AP Chemistry; this one is also tricky since London Dispersion Forces, Hydrogen Bonding, and Dipole-Dipole are all Van der Waals forces)

Go to slide 6, make copies and pass out the IMF Research Questions handout or display the questions that students need to answer about their specific IMF, and allow the students to research their IMF and construct a presentation over it.


40 Minute(s)

Go to slide 7, after the students have conducted their research and made their presentations, make copies and pass out the Cornell Notes. Have the groups present their IMF presentations to the class and fill out the notes as each group presents.

After the presentations, students will participate in the Claim Cards strategy. Go to slide 8 and pass out a set of Claim Cards to each group. Have each group discuss whether each claim is correct or incorrect, and why each is correct or incorrect. When the discussion is over, talk about the answers (which is in the teacher key).


60 Minute(s)

There are 5 different reactions that you will show the students:

  • Bent Water

  • Oil, Water, and Dish Soap

  • Mixing Water and Ethanol

  • Mixing iodine in various solutions

  • Mixture of water, ethanol, and potassium carbonate

Go to slide 9 and present each demonstration to the students. During and after each demonstration, have the students write down which IMF (or IMFs) are involved that cause what they are observing.


20 Minute(s)

Go to slide 10, once the demonstrations are done and the students have their answers, pair up students to do an Inverted Pyramid. Have the pairs share their answers with each other and explain what they wrote. Then, have pairs share out their reasoning with the whole class.

Have students turn in their answers so you can read what every student wrote whether they shared out loud or not.