Chem – Putting Together an Electron Dot Structure (Lewis Structure)

What are Electron Dot Structures (Lewis Structures)?

The electron dot structures (Lewis structure) is a way to represent a 3 dimensional covalent chemical on a 2 dimensional piece of paper so that we can better or more easily understand what the properties of that molecule are. It is just like an engineer or architect making a sketch on paper of their eventual 3D building. This section will focus on how we put them together by drawing them on a piece of paper for the purposes of solving chemistry problems. BEFORE YOU START the rest of the sections in this lesson, make sure you understand what valence electrons are.  You can review valence electrons from an earlier lesson with these two sections: valence electrons and drawing valence electrons around an atom.

Since valence electron dot structures (Lewis Structures) can sometimes be difficult, I have had to search for a way to be able to teach them simply yet correctly. The rules that I have come up with are listed below. They are listed in the order in which they should be performed. In other words, use rule number 1 first, then 2, then 3, then 4.

Lewis Structure Rules

What does all this mean? I will go over how to apply each rule in the sections to follow. For some students these rules can seem frustrating at first and to tell you the truth they are. I have seen a lot of teachers and students alike try to take shortcuts with the rules. It always ends up blowing up in their face because it leads them in the wrong direction in the future. If there were a better and faster way I would show you so just keep practicing.

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