Lewis Structures and VSEPR Theory Lab Report

Categories: Chemistry


In this laboratory experiment, we explored the concepts of Lewis Structures and VSEPR (Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion) Theory to understand molecular geometry, shape, and polarity of various molecules. These theories are essential in predicting the three-dimensional structures of molecules, which in turn influence their physical and chemical properties. Throughout the experiment, we constructed Lewis structures, examined electron geometries, molecular geometries, and assessed the polarity of different molecules.

Materials and Methods


  • Models of atoms and bonds
  • Molecular model kit
  • Chemical formulas of molecules (CH4, CO2, H2O, NH3, NH4+, CO2, SO2, HCl)


  1. For each molecule, we constructed a Lewis structure using the provided chemical formulas.

  2. We determined the number of lone pairs on the central atom and the total number of electrons around it from the Lewis structure.
  3. Using VSEPR theory, we predicted the electron geometry and molecular geometry for each molecule.
  4. We assessed the symmetry of each molecule to determine whether it was symmetrical (nonpolar) or asymmetrical (polar).

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  5. We discussed the polarity of each molecule based on the connection between electron geometry, molecular geometry, and symmetry.
  6. We compared the polarities of different molecules to understand the influence of electron and molecular geometries on polarity.
  7. We also discussed the solubility of molecules in water and oil based on their polarities.


The results of the experiment are summarized in the following data tables:

Data Table 1 - Analyzing Lewis Structures

Formula Lone Pairs of Electrons on Central Atom Number of Bonded Atoms Number of Unshared (Lone) Pairs of Electrons Structure (in 3D)
CH4 0 4 0 Tetrahedral
CO2 0 2 0 Linear
H2O 2 2 2 Bent
HCl 0 1 0 Linear
SO2 2 2 0 Bent
NH4+ 0 4 0 Tetrahedral
NH3 1 3 0 Trigonal Pyramidal
CO3^2- 0 3 0 Trigonal Planar

Data Table 2 - Applying VSEPR Theory

Formula Electron Geometry Molecular Geometry Is the Molecule Symmetrical or Asymmetrical? Is the Molecule Polar or Nonpolar?
CH4 Tetrahedral Tetrahedral Symmetrical Nonpolar
CO2 Linear Linear Symmetrical Nonpolar
H2O Tetrahedral Bent Asymmetrical Polar
HCl Linear Linear Symmetrical Polar
SO2 Tetrahedral Bent Asymmetrical Polar
NH4+ Tetrahedral Tetrahedral Symmetrical Nonpolar
NH3 Tetrahedral Trigonal Pyramidal Asymmetrical Polar
CO3^2- Trigonal Planar Trigonal Planar Symmetrical Nonpolar


Throughout this experiment, we gained valuable insights into molecular structures and polarity.

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Lewis structures provided a two-dimensional representation of molecular bonding by indicating the sharing of valence electrons between atoms. They allowed us to determine the number of lone pairs on the central atom and the total electrons around it.

However, Lewis structures alone couldn't provide information about the three-dimensional arrangement of atoms in molecules. This limitation necessitated the application of VSEPR theory, which takes into account electron geometries and molecular geometries. VSEPR theory allowed us to predict the shapes of molecules and whether they are polar or nonpolar.

Advantages of Constructing Three-Dimensional Models

Constructing three-dimensional models had several advantages in understanding molecular geometry:

  1. Visualization: Three-dimensional models provided a tangible representation of molecular shapes, making it easier to comprehend their structures.
  2. Symmetry: Models helped us identify the symmetry or asymmetry of molecules, which is crucial in determining polarity.

Predicting Polarity Using VSEPR Theory

VSEPR theory played a crucial role in predicting polarity. The connection between electron geometry, molecular geometry, and symmetry helped us determine whether a molecule is polar or nonpolar.

For example, in the case of H2O, the electron geometry is tetrahedral, but the molecular geometry is bent, and it is asymmetrical. As a result, the two dipoles (H-O bonds) do not cancel each other out, making H2O a polar molecule.

Conversely, NH4+ has a tetrahedral electron geometry and a tetrahedral molecular geometry. It is symmetrical, and its dipoles cancel out, resulting in a nonpolar molecule.

Differences in Polarity

The difference in polarity between NH3 and NH4+ can be attributed to their electron geometries, molecular geometries, and symmetries. NH4+ has a tetrahedral electron geometry and is symmetrical, leading to a nonpolar molecule. In contrast, NH3 has a trigonal pyramidal molecular geometry and is asymmetrical, making it a polar molecule.

Comparison of CO2 and SO2

CO2 and SO2 have similar formulas but differ in their polarities due to differences in electron geometries, molecular geometries, and symmetries. CO2 has a linear electron geometry and molecular geometry, and it is symmetrical, resulting in a nonpolar molecule. In contrast, SO2 has a trigonal planar electron geometry, an angular/bent molecular geometry, and is asymmetrical, making it a polar molecule.

Solubility and Polarity

Substances with similar polarities tend to mix well together. Based on this principle, we can predict that substances like SO2 and HCl, which are polar, would mix well with water, as water is also polar. Conversely, substances like CO2 and O2, which are nonpolar, may not mix well with water.

Regarding substances that mix well with oil, we can infer that substances like O2 and CO2, which are nonpolar like oil, would form solutions with oil. This is consistent with the "like dissolves like" rule, where substances with similar polarities tend to mix.


Through this laboratory experiment, we have gained a deeper understanding of Lewis Structures and VSEPR Theory. Lewis structures provided insights into molecular bonding and electron distribution, while VSEPR theory allowed us to predict molecular shapes and polarity. The ability to construct three-dimensional models further enhanced our comprehension of molecular geometry and symmetry, which are crucial in determining polarity. This knowledge is valuable in understanding the properties and behaviors of different molecules, aiding in various chemical analyses and applications.

Updated: Jan 24, 2024
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Lewis Structures and VSEPR Theory Lab Report. (2024, Jan 24). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/document/lewis-structures-and-vsepr-theory-lab-report

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