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Polyatomic Ion Word Search Mark as Favorite (4 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Polyatomic Ions, Chemistry Basics. Last updated August 31, 2023.


In this activity, students will be challenged to recognize and identify common polyatomic ions by name and chemical formula. Unlike a traditional word search puzzle, students are only provided with a list of formulas for 24 polyatomic ions, instead of the names of each. They are tasked with finding the corresponding ion names hidden in the puzzle, and then must match each one with its correct formula.

Grade Level

High School


By the end of this activity, students should be able to

  • Correctly identify common polyatomic ions by name and chemical formula.

Chemistry Topics

This activity supports students’ understanding of

  • Polyatomic Ions


Teacher Preparation: minimal

Lesson: 20 minutes


  • Student Handout


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • This activity was inspired by the Ion Puzzle originally published in the December 1988 issue of ChemMatters Magazine. It has been modified and republished in the AACT library with permission by the editor. The original puzzle page can be found in the ChemMatters Archive.
  • This activity was chosen to be published in the ChemFun section of the September 2023 issue of Chemistry Solutions.
  • It is suggested that teachers use this word search puzzle when teaching ionic bonding.
  • This word search is intended to be a fun activity for helping students to recognize the polyatomic ions that are most commonly encountered in high school chemistry classes, by both name and formula.
  • Depending on the level of the class, it may be appropriate to allow students to use a source to determine the name of select ions.
  • There are 24 names of polyatomic ions hidden in the word search. Names are written both horizontally and vertically, as well as forward and backward. Some names overlap throughout the puzzle, sharing common letters.
  • An answer key document has been provided for teacher reference.