Collisions Covalent Bonding: Teaching Strategies to use in Your Classroom

Have you been using the Collisions: Covalent Bonding game with your students? Below are some additional strategies to help with planning your lessons.

Before starting the game, ensure that students know the meaning of the following terms: single bond, double bond, triple bond, valence electrons, lone pair (and/or non-bonded pair).

As students play, introduce the terms molecular shape, bond polarity electronegativity.

Illustrate the steps required to draw basic Lewis structures (outside of Collisions):

  • Count the number of valence electrons for all of the atoms.
  • Adjust for any ion charge, if needed.
  • Draw the skeleton structure for the molecule – the least electronegative element (but never H) goes in the center.
  • Connect the skeleton with single bonds. Knowing that every single bond contains 2 electrons, subtract the number of electrons used in the single bonds from the total number of valence electrons available.
  • Distribute remaining electrons, in pairs, to satisfy the octet rule, distributing to the outside atoms first, working inwards.
  • If available electrons are exhausted before the octet rule is satisfied for all atoms, share lone pairs of electrons with more central atoms to create double or triple bonds.

In the sandbox: draw students’ attention to SO₂ which contains a coordinate covalent bond. In order to create this structure in Collisions, one of the O atoms needs to have an empty domain to combine with a pair of electrons from the central S atom. Have students try to make ozone (O₃).

Explain VSEPR Theory to your students. Post these short videos for your students to watch!

After playing Level 11, ask your students to describe what is different about the bonds in each molecule they created. What influences the location of the shared electrons within a bond?

After playing Level 15, ask your students to explain the difference between the 3-dimensional shapes made by CH₂O and NH₃.

Have your students identify ionization energy trends, and draw the trends as big arrows across each period and down each group on a blank periodic table.

Challenge your students to master the Covalent Bonding Sandbox Achievements:

  • Molecule with single bond (Br₂)
  • Molecule with double bonds (CO₂)
  • Molecule with triple bond (C₂H₂)
  • Molecule with coordinate covalent bond (SO₂)
  • Single Bond, Double bond, Triple bond: nonpolar
  • Single Bond, Double bond: semipolar
  • Tetrahedral, trigonal planar, linear shaped molecules
  • Or, make up your own challenges and have students submit a screenshot of their work!

The Covalent Bonding game shares Connected Levels with Atoms, IMFs, and Acids & Bases. Have your students complete all levels of the Covalent Bonding game, as well as one of the other games listed, to open up the pipe between these games and CONNECT their learning!

Collisions Atoms: Teaching Strategies to use in Your Classroom

Are you using the Atoms Game with your students? Below are some suggested teaching strategies to help you plan your lessons.


Explain the electrostatic force between protons and electrons that drives effective nuclear charge (Zeff), and how it affects the atomic radius. Post these short TikTok videos for your students to watch!

After playing Level 9, ask your students to describe the atomic radii trend that is represented down a group, and explain why this happens.

After playing Level 11, ask your students to describe the atomic radii trend that is represented across a period, and explain why this happens.

Have your students identify atomic radii trends, and draw the trends as big arrows across each period and down each group on a blank periodic table.

Challenge your students to master the Atoms Sandbox Achievements:

  • Atoms with certain numbers of protons
  • Atoms of increasing size between two noble gases (SUPER CHALLENGE for advanced students)
  • Atoms with low/medium/high electronegativity
  • Atoms with a certain number of valence electrons
  • Or, make up your own challenges and have students submit a screenshot of their work!

The Atoms game shares Connected Levels with Ions, IMFs, and Covalent Bonding. Have your students complete all levels of Atoms, and any one of the other three games to open up the pipe between these games and CONNECT their learning!

Using Collisions in Class and for Assessment

Collisions has been one of the best tools for teaching introductory chemistry topics that I have come across in a while.  It helps students to visualize and manipulate the structure and behavior of atoms, ions, and molecules.  With the move to remote and hybrid learning, I have been using Collisions more this year than I have in past years.

During Class

For my lectures, I often use an app called Explain Everything, which allows me to embed websites and education apps into classroom discussions. As I begin describing a new topic covered by Collisions, I open the corresponding level to demonstrate exactly what I am talking about.  Orbital filling is a great example of this; the Collisions game will not unlock the 3d sublevel until the 4s sublevel is full.  Once unlocked, students can see that 3d sublevels cannot contain valence electrons.

Student playing Collisions Atoms Game

Collisions is packed full of these types of learning opportunities.  We work through the core levels, and I can assign the rest of the levels as homework, along with the worksheets and student quests provided by Collisions.  



Collisions provides a formative assessment worksheet for each of the eight Collisions games, called “Check for Understanding.” I have used the provided formative assessment worksheets as both openers and exit tickets. In addition, at the end of each sub-unit, I assign the Sandbox Achievements to assess learning comprehension. This virtually eliminates students’ ability to cheat, while allowing them to demonstrate mastery of content.

Students at computer lab in chemistry class

This year, I used the Collisions Connected Levels as my semester final exam. My students were elated when I announced that Collisions would be used for their final. They were actually excited to take a final?!?! I assigned each Connected Level a point value, with the most challenging being worth the most points. They were given two class sessions to complete the levels and were informed that they could not do any of the levels outside of the class. 

Collisions has been an extremely helpful and engaging tool for instruction, homework, and learning assessment! 

Student on Laptop at home


4 Tips to Implement Game-Based Learning

By: PlayMada Games

The benefits of incorporating games into our classrooms and into our lessons are clear. Games are a great way to engage students, they allow students to progress at their own pace, and they allow students to work and learn independently.Learn Key on Keyboard

But that does not mean incorporating games into the classroom is easy. So here are four tips for successfully implementing games into your lessons:



1. Play the game before your students play.

This is likely the most obvious of the tips, but it’s also one of the most common mistakes teachers make when incorporating a digital game into a lesson. But what may be less obvious is to play the game like you are a student, not like a teacher that knows the content extremely well already.

Teacher Playing Collision

A game like Collisions: Play Chemistry was designed to allow students to freely explore and make discoveries on their own. The Ions game, for example, allows the player to attempt to remove any electron from an atom, not just valence electrons. As chemistry teachers, it’s second nature to immediately begin by removing valence electrons to form a cation. For many of our students, that’s certainly not a given. Playing the game beforehand, allows you to familiarize yourself with what happens in the game when a student tries to remove an inner electron and other moments of discovery that will invariably happen throughout gameplay.


2. Prepare questions to ask your students during and after playing the game.

As a student, whenever my teacher gave me a reading assignment there were always questions for me to answer along with the reading. I usually read these questions beforehand to focus myself. As teachers planning to incorporate a digital game into our lessons, consider crafting two sets of questions for students: one set of questions to verbally ask individual students as they play and another set of questions for all students to answer after gameplay.

Questions during gameplay should point out a particular concept encountered during gameplay. For example, in the Covalent Bonding game inStudent with hand raisedCollisions, students can create polar bonds and see the shared electrons shift. Stop and ask that student, “Why do you think those shared electrons moved closer to the fluorine atom than the hydrogen atom?”.  Have a handful of these questions ready to use as you walk around the classroom during gameplay.

Post-gameplay questions should be designed to check for understanding and relate specifically to the learning objectives for the lesson. For example, “How does electronegativity (red glow in the Covalent Bonding game) affect the location of the shared electrons in a covalent bond?” is a great question to assess students understanding of bond polarity. For more sample questions, visit the Teacher Resources section of our website and download the Teacher Quick Start Guides.


3. Regularly reference the game in subsequent lessons.

In the days and weeks after playing the game, keep referencing aspects of the game. Phrases like, “Remember when you saw the shared electrons shift…” help students draw connections between the concepts being discussed and the visuals in the game. Using an LCD projector and the Sandbox in Collisions, you can also quickly show a particular visual or interaction in the game to highlight one specific concept. As you make more references to the game, students become less likely to view games in your classroom as time fillers.


4. Know the technology requirements and test the game before class.

While there’s no way to completely eliminate unforeseen technology problems, the more you know ahead of time, the better. 

Student and teacher looking at laptopTest the game at school on the same devices students will be using. It’s also a good idea to try the game during school hours to see how it performs during peak internet usage times. If you are using tablets, check that you are able to install the game without the assistance of an IT person (the web version of Collisions runs through any browser and does not require any installation).

Some schools and districts filter access to certain websites. Testing the game on the school’s network will ensure your students are not blocked by filters during your lesson. (If you are blocked, we can provide your IT person with a whitelist to change that!)