Ionic and Covalent Bonding in Relationships and Biology by Andrew Burnham

 Ionic and Covalent Bonding

There are so many Chemistry concepts that have been developed throughout history, and many of these can be compared to everyday life. One interesting topic is two different types of bonding which are known as ionic bonding and covalent bonding. Ionic bonding is a bond between a metal cation atom, which is positively charged, and a nonmetal anion atom, which is negatively charged. Covalent bonding is a bond between two nonmetal atoms which share their valence electrons with each other, and try to satisfy the octet rule where they have a balanced outer orbital when the atoms react with one another. Paul Burgmayer (2011) stated in his creative writing project, “In general, atoms of metals bond ionically with atoms of nonmetals…and atoms of nonmetals bond covalently with each other.” Burgmayer emphasizes in this quote how the two different bonds interact with each other and how they are formed. The comparison being made to these Chemistry concepts is about relationships between a man and a woman, relationships between a parent and their child, and how these Chemistry topics relate to the academic setting of Biology.

Comparison of Ionic and Covalent Bonding to Relationships in People


The saying “opposites attract,” can be related to the Chemistry concept of ionic bonding. In an ionic bond, a metal and nonmetal attract to each other and these substances can metaphorically be replaced with a man and a woman by showing how some people have opposite personalities, and how that works out great for relationships and keeps people together most of the time. In more on the Chemistry side of things, a metal generally has a positive charge, and a nonmetal generally a negative charge. This is what causes people to attract a lot of the times, and these charges can be compared to people’s personalities such as in a setting like dating.

Now some elements have different numbers of charges such as +1, -2, or +3, and so on, this can be related to the many different people in the world and how there is much diversity between people, and how they are sometimes different and sometimes like one another. Most of the elements can bond to one another ionically if they are a metal and a nonmetal, and even though they have different numbers for their charges, they can still bond together. A specific real-world comparison of the different number for charges in an ionic bond can be shown how when they are bonded, they have an overall negative or positive charge left over after they try to balance. So, like how Mg and Cl bond to one another, Mg has a +2 charge and Cl a -1 charge, and the overall bond would be shown as MgCl+1, which metaphorically could say these people had a more “positive” outcome in their relationship; the opposite comparison can go for those with negative overall charges and how those people had a “negative” outcome in their relationship. You could also say that those that are balanced with no overall charge, can go either way since they are in the middle of being either positive or negative.295694033

Covalent bonds are different than ionic bonds, and can be used to compare between relationships of a mother and a daughter, or a father and a son. In covalent bonds, each atom has valence electrons that surround them that can be used to bond to another atom; this is like a parent and their child because the child has similar traits to their parents causing them to “bond” together, just like in covalent bonding. Each atom has valence electrons in their outer orbitals and are shared between each other in a covalent bond, and this is a very strong bond and is like how mother and daughter bonds, or father and son bonds don’t break very easy and usually last a life time between them, unless severed by some other force. Electrons that make covalent bonds possible are amazingly powerful in how they can hold two different elements together, giving them many different functions (Rita Hoots, 2013).

Both types of atoms bonding in a covalent bond are nonmetal, which is why the reference of father and son, or mother and daughter is used, to show how they are the same type of atom, or the same gender of bonding between a child and a parent as the metaphorical comparison. Obviously, a father and daughter or a mother and son can bond and have wonderful relationships between each other, but for this specific comparison, I will stick with the general idea of the same gender between a parent and child bonding with one another. Another tie that could be made between covalent bonding and these family relationships is how for the Chemistry side of things, there are polar and nonpolar covalent bonds. This is an explanation to why some people and their relationships with each other don’t work out well, and they act and seem different, that’s because some atoms are farther apart electronegative wise, and some relationships work out well because they are similar in their polarity.

Relationship of types of Bonding to Biology


The concept of ionic and covalent bonding can not only be compared to relationships, but it can also be related to an academic context which is in a Biology class in college. Biology has many interesting concepts layered throughout its core, and Chemistry is a good way of describing many of the processes that occur in Biology. Many concepts in Biology include Chemistry content and are used in classrooms to teach students more in depth, how things work specifically on a cellular level. For example, all the atoms and other particles and cells in a body are held together by ionic and covalent bonds, and these bonds connect everything together on a cellular level (Destiny Keller, 2012).

A couple other Chemistry and Biology concepts are how there are fatty acids with carbon chains which represent covalent bonds as well as organic molecules, and how DNA is made up of covalent bonds because they are more stable, and they share electrons making them stronger and a more suitable choice. It’s nice to learn these types of concepts in a college class because future scientists need to know how these things work, such as if there wasn’t the ability for atoms to bond together, then DNA obviously would just float around in pieces and we wouldn’t be who we are today. In fact, we wouldn’t be here at all because we would just be floating atoms if there wasn’t any type of bonding. Obviously, there isn’t anything we can do for atoms in our bodies to bond since they do it automatically, but luckily atoms have charges and can either steal electrons from another atom like in an ionic bond, or share electrons like in a covalent bond to help hold us and everything else in the world together.


There are so many other ways that the Chemistry concept of ionic and covalent bonding can be related to the college classroom setting in Biology. Some more concepts that could be taught in a college class are how ionic bonds help shape and form tertiary and quaternary proteins because, certain atoms on the protein will be attracted to each other and form these bonds holding the general shape of the protein together. Just like how proteins are held together and shaped by ionic bonds, chromosomes in a cell are shaped by the certain atoms that bond together. Ionic bonds can separate things into ions and we use these ions for many different chemical processes, such as contracting/flexing our muscles. Ca+2 or a K ion can be used for these processes specifically because, it goes through the neurotransmitter junct which activates hormones. Robert G. Parr (2014) specified in his chemical bonding article, “The simplest chemical bonds to describe are those resulting from direct coulombic attractions between ions of opposite charge, as in most crystalline salts. These are termed ionic bonds.” In this quote, Parr specifies how ions can be used as salts to help make different types of reactions occur.

As what would probably be taught in a Biology class, to make a muscle contract, different ionic compounds (salts) in cells make these ions, and the ions are important for signaling between cells and they build up positive and negative charges on opposite sides of the cell, and when the charges are built up, that is how they can trigger a reaction such as a muscle or nerve contraction. Another way that bonding applies to Biology, is how many sugars in the body such as glucose, fructose, and galactose are held together by covalent bonds, and these sugars help the body function and perform necessary tasks in everyday life (Destiny Keller, 2012). There are so many ways to show how ionic and covalent bonding can be applied in a Biology class, in how the many functions of the body are performed on a microscopic level by chemical bonds. It is interesting how ionic and covalent bonding can be related to things in either a real-world context, or an academic context, and it is brilliant how bonding keeps the world constructed together and keeps everything running the way it should.


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Visual Design References

  • Broek, James Van Den. “Chemical Bonding and Molecular Geometry: Shapes, Names, Polarity.” VB’s Teaching and Learning Spot. N.p., 16 Nov. 2016. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.


  • “Chemical Bond.” Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.


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  • “DNA.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.

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