Model of the molecular structure of barite (also spelled baryte), a mineral consisting of barium sulfate (BaS04), known for its range of colors and varied crystal forms. Barite is a common mineral found around the world and has a variety of industrial uses. This was apparently an educational aid, either for classroom use or as part of an exhibit. The complex structure is formed from wooden balls painted silver, tan or red, connected by metal rods. The silver balls represent barium, the tan ones sulfur and the red ones oxygen. A paper label reading "Baryt" is attached to one of the rods, which is the German spelling.
The broad incorporation of visual aids such as illustrations and three-dimensional models into classroom teaching, now accepted as commonplace, originated in the mid 19th century. In that period, influential educators advocated their use at all levels of education as a more efficient teaching method than lectures alone. Such products were particularly popular in the United States and Western Europe. The rationale is succinctly encapsulated by Horace Mann in his Lectures on Education, published in 1845 when he was serving as Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education:
"The mind often acquires, by a glance of the eye, what volumes of books and months of study could not reveal so livingly through the ear. Everything that comes through the eye, too, has a vividness, a clear outline, a just collocation of parts, -- each in its proper place, which the other senses can never communicate. Ideas or impressions acquired through vision are long-lived."
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light wear to paint and oxidation to metal. String later wrapped on two sides, perhaps for hanging, easily removed if desired.
Friedman, Herschel. "The Mineral Barite." Minerals.net. 1997-2011. http://www.minerals.net/mineral/barite.aspx (14 June 2011).
Mann, Horace. Lectures on Education. Boston: William B. Fowle and N. Capen, 1845. p. 29. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=WfMSAAAAIAAJ (14 June 2011).