10 low-budget models for teaching biology and anatomy

Middle School / High School

We get it: you want to teach biology and anatomy, but you don’t want to blow your entire budget on mega-expensive models.

When it comes to models, it’s true what they say: you can’t have it all. Budget models always come at a cost in quality—either in detail or materials. Nevertheless, through Ward’s you can find some exciting, instructive options that give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Here are 10 models that make it easy to demonstrate key biology concepts while staying within your budget:

Skeletal Components

  1. Check out this Somso® Collection of Vertebrae, including atlas, axis, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae mounted on nylon.
  2. See also Eisco® Individual Bones. Pick and choose from dozens of different bones for just $5 to $25!
  3. For a little higher cost but still in a budget-friendly range, we recommend the Somso® Individual Human Bones.

Structural Models

  1. Check out GPI Anatomicals for a varied assortment, including an eye model, kidney pathology model, pancreas model, and much more. Most of these models fall in a range of just $90-$125. Can’t beat it.
  2. If you’re looking for a hands-on toy for exploration rather than a reusable classroom-style model then take a look at the 4D anatomy models. These offer a unique puzzle challenge that inspires critical thought and mental acuity. Perfect for younger students.

Build-a-Model Kits

  1. The Cell Assembly Required Lab Activity is a great way to show various cell processes. The kit itself is designed for students to “build a cell” using clay and a dense gelatin. Students create different cell components from clay, which they place into the gelatin. When they’re done, the cell pops out, and the students have a temporary cell model they’ve created. This also works if you want them to create different cell stages (mitosis, meiosis) or cell processes (protein formation).
  2. With Ward's DNA and RNA Molecular Structure Lab Activity, students will construct all of the structural components that make up DNA and RNA, as well as a complete nucleotide chain (see also our Structure of DNA: Build a Model Kit).
  3. The Virus Modeling Kit has groups of students building their own models of five different viruses, so they can learn the diversity of the structure of different viruses.
  4. If you want to teach your students about chemical compounds, check out the Student Molecular Model Set, with which they’ll be creating three-dimensional models of complex molecules with multiple and cyclic bonds.

Model Alternatives

  1. Here’s a quick alternative to a model if you want to teach botany: the Geoblox Botany Models are a set of stencils, or paper forms, that students assemble. These aren’t technically a model, but many students use the coloring books to address the same topics you’d use models for. Really cool.


When you see the price tag on a lot of models out there, it can be intimidating. But it turns out, as long as you stay a little flexible, you can find some great models that won’t bust your budget to smithereens. Check out some of the options above, and you just might come up with the perfect choice for your class.

As always, if you have any questions about models or anything else, just ask the Ward’s Science Plus Us team at sciencehelp@vwr.com. Our in-house scientists and technicians are ready to answer even the toughest inquiries.

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