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Why is water so mysterious?

Question asked by Rochelle Kreider on Apr 1, 2015
Latest reply on Feb 19, 2019 by Karen Wisniewski

I am a relatively new teacher in Chemistry, and every year I seem to have the same conceptual struggles with the bonding properties of water.  My students may feel confident in the concept the water is covalently bonded with a dipole nature that allows it to create hydrogen bonds and exhibit unique properties like surface tension and adhesion.  Then we start introducing the self-ionization properties of water and acid-base chemistry concepts, and they seem to go into mental melt-down. How is water capable of both covalent and ionic bonding . . . and are there other molecules that do this as well?  Does anyone have any reliable teaching tools or descriptive activities that can help my students (and myself) better understand these mysterious properties of water?? I would gladly take any resources being offered!