Yes, these would be useful for teaching (or, in my case re-learning!) the basic principals of atomic structure, but I bought them just because I think they're quite fun to construct great-looking colorful tabletop sculptures with! This set does not include an instruction book, but I know that the different color wooden spheres are meant to represent different elements--hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. These can be configured into molecules/sculptures via wooden dowels of shorter and longer lengths as well as coiled springs, all meant to represent chemical bonds
I'm not entirely certain the age of these, which have been made by the Sargent-Welch Scientific Company since the 1960s, but it appears that this particular set model --S-61815--dates to 1968. It appears more or less complete and in very good condition, with wear to the box and a couple of the spring connectors have been stretched. Box measures 11" x 8 1/4" x 1 3/8". Balls measure between 1 1/8" to 1 1/4" in diameter.