Making your Collegiate-Level A&P Course Camp-Friendly!

19 Sep
A message from Dani Waters, Communication Committee ROCK STAR and graduate student at Penn State University.

A message from Dani Waters, Communication Committee ROCK STAR and graduate student at Penn State University.

Dani is the current laboratory coordinator for the undergraduate mammalian anatomy labs at Penn State University. In 2014 she received the HAPS and Primal Pictures scholarship, allowing her to attend her first annual conference in Jacksonville. Once she finishes her Master’s degree, Dani hopes to pursue a career in Anatomy Education.

I was approached last Fall to take over a Pre-Med summer camp for Penn State’s Science Outreach Program. Because I have never been a summer camp participant or counselor, I was nervous about being in charge of something so large (I had a staff of 22 college students and 75 middle school campers). In my opinion, the camp was a huge success in large part because we modeled our camp activities after our college A&P courses. Since we design our own lab manuals, have models, specimens, and equipment available, and train teaching assistants every semester, I simply made a few modifications to adapt my curriculum to meet the needs and comprehension-level of a new, younger audience.

Dani with a group of 8th graders, inflating pig lungs.

Dani with a group of 8th graders, inflating pig lungs.

Each day we covered a different body system(s). The campers first examined the basic structures and general functions and then were able to explore medical applications. By the end of the day, they could diagnose patients and learn more about specific diseases.  Campers were very proud of themselves when they could use medical devices and perform experiments that doctors would normally perform (for example, testing blood samples to see which patient had diabetes). Just like real doctors!


5th grade campers working through an EEG exercise.

Hands-on activities where students could touch and see the anatomy and physiology were the most popular. Many campers agreed that the dissections were their favorite part, while others loved ultrasound, blood pressure, and EEG. The greatest challenge for writing the camp curriculum was trying to be concise without leaving out important material. It was hard to gauge just how long it would take an 11-year-old to find the large bones in the skull, or to identify different organs, because that was something I had never had to do before.

Next summer I will eliminate some anatomical structures from our list, and include more game-like activities. Our college students are preparing for a career in medicine, while these kids are trying to enjoy their summer with some fun science education. Pretending to be real doctors solving medical mysteries (and having fun while doing it) was the primary objective for the camp, and I feel that we met that goal.

Please check out our YouTube video to see some of the fun activities campers experienced!

Many Hands…

11 Sep
A message from the Communications Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

A message from the Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

I’ve been a HAPS member for 5 years now, and my membership is BY FAR the most rewarding and fruitful professional development resource in my toolkit. Because of its incredible value, I am quick to line up to give BACK to HAPS. I’ve been the Communication Committee chair for over two years now, I participate on the listserv and share whatever I can, and HAPS membership is always the first thing I recommend to people who ask me for advice regarding anything related to A&P teaching.

In large part due to HAPS, I am currently in year three of my four-year tenure process. Being in the midst of this rigorous and reflective undertaking has pushed me up to the edges of my craft. I find myself with more things that I want to do, than there is time in which to do them. I have to make hard decisions about where to invest my precious moments, while maintaining a family too, and this is tricky. But my participation in HAPS leadership is never on the chopping block.

So I’m taking some time write this quick post, because we all benefit tremendously from this society. One of my favorite things to do at the HAPS Annual Conference is to chill with the “old timers.” (First timers are cool too!)  I am really moved by the people who not only BEGAN this organization that we all love, but who continue to participate in its events and support its growth. These people are inspiring to me, because I understand all work that must be done in their own lives…and yet they make space to support and nurture HAPS too.


HAPS 2013 Annual Conference in Las Vegas!

I tell this story often…but before deciding to attend my first annual conference (in Las Vegas), I wrote a quick note to the listserv, asking if it was “worth it.” It makes me laugh, now, to think back on that naive question. HAPSters, in true HAPSter form, came out of the woodwork to encourage me to attend the event. I even remember people saying things like, “You HAVE to come to Vegas! You’re already part of the family!” And although many old timers say Vegas was one of the least fun annual conferences (!), I really was completely blown away by the richness of the experience.

When I think of HAPS, I think of many hands. Many hands working together to make this organization happen. Many hands reaching out to bring new people into the mix. Many hands helping us all become better teachers.

Many image shared by Nikki and Sharon McCutcheon. CC-BY.

Many hands…

Want to help?  Give me a holler

Teaching in Tanzania

29 Aug
Julie Doll

Here is a message from HAPS Communication Committee member, Julie Doll.

A team of dentists, orthodontists, and dental hygienists led by Dr. Lisa Alvetro from Sidney, Ohio, makes yearly trips to Tanzania and runs a clinic out of an orphanage near Tarime. Julie attended one of these trips in 2014, during which she spent mornings doing construction work on a new kitchen for the orphanage and afternoons teaching science classes in the attached school.

When I first arrived in Tanzania, in February 2013, I had no idea what to expect. I was taking part in a mission trip to the Angel House Orphanage and Secondary School and would be teaching science classes in the school. I wondered, “How old are the students? What is their background in science? Can they understand English? Where am I even teaching these classes?” I was also nervous that I wouldn’t have anything to use in my demonstrations. Any anxiety I had was immediately relieved when I walked into the classroom and saw the desks, chalk boards, and a model skeleton in the corner. The students I worked with were amazing. They were all so intelligent, eager to learn, and very respectful of their instructors. They even stood up when I entered or left the room!

I brought textbooks, some lab supplies, a microscope, and a stethoscope with me. They had been donated from my undergraduate university and a local pharmacy. Some of the supplies were for a DNA extraction that we did on the first day. I was very happy that everything made it through customs and I was actually able to do this one. On the third day of my visit I taught blood flow through the heart and showed them how to use the stethoscope. It was easy to tell when a student had found his or her heartbeat because their faces would light up with excitement. I think having something tactile to work with was especially helpful in this setting. Although the students were able to understand my English, any language barriers that may have been present could be overcome by having some sort of lab equipment to work with. It meant that even if they could not understand me speaking to them, these students could still discover the topics themselves.

At the end of one of my lectures, the students’ teacher asked me to stand up at the front of the room. I will never forget what he said. “Do you know what she is? She is a scientist and she is a woman. I want you to see her as a role model and a challenge, because she is proof that women can make it in science and medicine.” Later, some of the girls from my class came up to me and said that they wanted to be nurses. I felt so honored that I could be an inspiration for someone. That was probably the most important thing I brought to their school.


Julie teaching in Tanzania.

Julie Doll is a graduate student studying human anatomy at The Ohio State University. She completed her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Saint Francis in Illinois in 2013. While there she worked as a teaching assistant in gross anatomy and human dissection courses for two and a half years. Julie joined HAPS in 2015. Following the regional meeting in Cincinnati she joined the Communications Committee and currently runs the HAPS LinkedIn page.



Guided Inquiry Materials for the First Day of Class

22 Aug
Murray learns from Dr. Fink at double time speed during breakfast while reading the newspaper and enjoying his morning coffee!

A message from HAPS member Murray Jensen.

Experienced educators know that the first day of the semester is by far the most important in terms of setting the tone for student behaviors and expectations.  During the first class meeting, students learn such things as:  Will we be sitting quietly? Working in groups?  Do I really need to show up for class?  Introducing changes to classroom policies such as tardiness, extra credit options, and cell phone use is much more difficult in the 3rd or 4th weeks than on the first day.  And the same is true for pedagogy; if you want students to be working in groups in weeks 3, 4, and beyond, it’s best to get them working in groups on the first day.  In my classes I aim for the 10-minute mark – I want students working in groups and talking to each other quickly after my introduction to the course.

Two things must be done prior to having students begin any group activity.  First, the instructor must organize students into groups.  Second, the instructor must give them a simple introductory task that helps them learn a bit about the other members in the group.  An experienced teacher might give the following instructions in a large Anatomy and Physiology class:

“I want you to work in groups of 3 or 4, so find 2 to 3 other people to work with for today, and then organize yourselves in a circle.  After that, I want you to introduce yourselves by saying your names, your favorite food, and your dream job that you want to have in 10 years.  Once you are done, raise your hands and I’ll give your group the first activity.  Everybody should be able to get this all done in the next 3 or 4 minutes.  GO!”

It’s always good practice to let students talk about themselves before jumping into an activity.  Questions such as “what is your favorite food?” and “what is your dream job?” give everyone something to say and require a low level of trust, which occurs as people first become acquainted.

Over the past few years I’ve used two different guided inquiry lessons on the first day of class; Levels of Organization Activity, which is a core concept to all human anatomy and physiology, and Medical Terminology Activity, which introduces students to prefixes, roots, suffixes, and eponyms.  Both are short in duration (15 to 20 minutes) and relatively easy for students to complete with minimal instructor direction. I’ve even got some Instructions for Students, to ensure everyone begins on the same page.

While students are working on the activity, students’ hands will go up as questions occur such as “What’s the answer to question 8?”  During a guided inquiry activity, it’s important for the instructor not to give direct answers to students’ questions, but rather give hints, clues, and when possible, follow up with additional questions.  Again, on the first day of class you are setting the tone, and in an inquiry classroom, the role of the instructor is an instigator of thought more than a fount of information.  Offering hints or clues is acceptable, but you should resist the urge to give answers.  At the end of the activity when all groups have finished, the instructor can engage in a large-group discussion with the class to review answers.  It is here that the instructor might say, “Question 8 caused some groups problems; anybody have an answer for Question 8?”  And it is here at the very end of the activity, that answers to specific questions can be confirmed by the instructor.

The Summer 2016 edition of the HAPS Educator in now available.  In that edition, I have shared some pieces on teaching with inquiry and cooperative learning.  And the two activities included above will help you and your students with something to do on the first day.  If you like these, send me a note and I’ll forward you a couple more.  (Murray Jensen –  Finally, the two activities linked here are a part of a larger set that can found on the HAPS Website under “Guided learning activities for A & P.”

Time for some SUMMER!

12 Jun

Your HAPS Bloggers are going offline for the summer. We’ll be back in August sometime with more fun and excitement from the Communication Committee.

Skully enjoying the summer in San Diego!

Skully enjoying the summer in San Diego.

HAPS in Atlanta: Social Media MADNESS!

5 Jun
A message from the Communications Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

A message from the Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

Once again, HAPS put on a phenomenal annual conference. I was proud to call myself a “4th Timer” this year, and am looking forward to being a “5th Timer” next year in Salt Lake City.

30_yrsAs usual, the update speakers were phenomenal, the posters diverse and interesting, the vendors helpful and enthusiastic, and the workshops inspiring. And of course, I’ve heard nothing but RAVING ENTHUSIASM about the post-conference field trip to the CDC. But there was something new at this conference that added a really fun and engaging spice to the event.

It was the HAPS app, a small bit of technology that Executive Director Peter English unveiled in his May 9 blog post.  He advertised the app as being our normal app (to help us get around and keep up with the schedule and any changes)…but on STEROIDS. And he wasn’t joking. The app was a fantastic way to engage with HAPSters all week long in a frenzy of social media madness.  (As the Communication Committee Chair, I was impressed with all the chatter!)

App shot CommentNow…I must admit that I mostly used the app to complain about my painful transition from West Coast time to East Coast time.  But my whining was just a small part of the whole social media CRAZY that bubbled through the app all week.


There were messages about food…and drink. There were messages in which pleas for help were being made.

App shots 1-2

There were lots and lots of pictures of HAPSters with Einstein, of course. And then there was the picture of Valerie O’Loughlin with five pounds of fat. I’m not quite sure what that was about.

App shots 3-4

The really fun thing is that you can still download the app and take a look at the all that chatter.  And start saving your pennies for Salt Lake.  I am!

Your bloggers are having too much fun!

25 May
A message from the ComCom

A message from the ComCom Chair, Wendy Riggs

It’s true!  The blogging team is rockin’ the scene in Atlanta and we’re having way too much fun to blog!

30_yrsBut don’t worry- the Queen of Blogs herself (that would be ME!) is rounding up some superstars to keep you entertained in the months to come. Curious?  Let’s just say I’ve got a verbal commitment from Geezer Gab founder and HAPS President Emeritus Bill Perrotti, and even managed to squeeze a blog promise out of another President Emeritus, Gary Johnson!  Let me tell you, coaxing these old timers into the blogosphere is no small feat!

So stay tuned– we’ll have more Atlanta reports for you soon.  (And yes– we ARE all making plans for fun times next year in Salt Lake City.)



Enjoy the lovely Atlanta skyline while participating in the HAPS fun walk/run.

We can’t wait to see you!

16 May
A message from the Atlanta Conference Committee Co-Chair, Kyla Ross.

A message from the Atlanta Conference Committee Co-Chair, Kyla Ross.

The annual HAPS conference kicks off in less than one week in Atlanta. It’s the 30th anniversary of the HAPS annual conference, and our conference committee has worked hard to commemorate the occasion. There are anniversary shirts and commemorative pins. Check out Christie Canady’s blog to learn more. Also, be on the lookout at the conference for fun highlights of the last 30 years.

We are excited to welcome some of the top researchers and educators in the country to serve as our update speakers. Topics include educational research, novel teaching methods, zoonotic diseases, microvasculature, cancer immunotherapy, biomechanics, and personalized medicine. Visit our exhibitors to learn more about the latest and greatest teaching and technology tools. Learn more about innovations in education by attending each of the three poster sessions and two days of workshops. And, don’t forget to socialize and network with fellow HAPSters at our evening reception and social.

A message from the 2016 Annual Conference Committee

HAPS Synapse! also returns this year with an exciting exploration of topics we all assume that we know well. Perhaps most impressive is that all HAPS Synapse! speakers are well-respected authors. Check out Keely Cassidy’s sneak peek at speakers and topics here. This session will not disappoint!

Want a little exercise while you see some historic sights? Then, be sure to sign up for the HAPS Foundation Walk-Run. Conference committee member and runner extraordinaire, Patrick Cafferty, has designed a course that optimizes sightseeing in the area historic neighborhoods. Check out his recent blog to learn more. Remember, all funds support the HAPS Foundation!

Hospitality R4Looking for some additional fun while you are visiting? Atlanta has so many area attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola , Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Atlanta Braves, Martin Luther King Center, great area restaurants, and much more.  Learn more by referencing our Hospitality Guide on the app or online, or checking out recent blog posts by our Hospitality Coordinator, Margaret Long: Part I and Part II. Our local conference volunteers will also be wearing hospitality buttons, so please find one of us for guidance while you are here.

This year, we are also excited to offer 120 HAPSters the opportunity to visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Those signed up for our post-conference event have received their required security clearance and are ready to tour the CDC Museum, and learn more about the CDC. We will meet representatives from the Division of Emergency Operations, and we will attend Q&A sessions with Division Director, Toby Merlin, and Deputy Director, Chris Braden.

It’s an exciting time as we put the finishing touches on conference details. We can’t wait to welcome you to our great city for a great conference. We wish all of you safe travels, and we will see you soon!

Kyla Ross
Conference Committee Co-Chair

Check out the HAPS 2016 app!

9 May IMG_4297


This year we have put the Annual Conference app on steroids!  We have a ton of new features in addition to all the schedule, presenter, and maps info you have become accustomed to using.

Download the app now!

First, when you open the app you will see the ACTIVITY STREAM that is similar to a facebook feed or a twitter feed. The difference is that ours is private and limited to other HAPS 2016 app users (there is an option to cross-post to other social media sites if that is what you want to do).  You can make announcements, comment and rate events.  The social features will help everyone get more out of the conference.  And we’ve made posting a game to make it more fun – you get POINTS for posting or liking the posts of others.

Since you will be posting as yourself, you’ll need to REGISTER within the app – it is quick and easy and lets your friends find you.  Once you register you will be listed in the PEOPLE section of the app, and you can use this section to keep track of the new people you meet.  Add TAGS to your profile to let people know more about your interests.  Need a tag that isn’t available?  Let us know.  

Once you have read the latest from the ACTIVITY FEED, you swipe to the right or touch the menu in the upper left and you’ll be taken to the menu of all the options – and there are lots of options!  


The Main Menu

ACTIVITY STREAM – This is the social media-type feed of all the comments.  This will be fun to watch.

PEOPLE – This is everyone who has registered within the app.  If you meet someone new, go here and put a check next to his or her name and you’ll have all the contact info for followup later!

SCHEDULE – Day-by-day of everything that is happening at HAPS 2016.  When you click on an event, you will have the option to RATE and COMMENT on the event and you can even make your own PERSONAL SCHEDULE (see the videos below).

PRESENTERS – Searchable list of all presenters – makes it easy to find friends or people whose workshops you want to attend.  Poster first presenters also include the poster abstract.

EXHIBITORS – The complete list of all our wonderful exhibitors and their contact info.  If you look in the HOTEL MAPS section below, you will find an interactive map of the exhibit hall that shows you where all the exhibitors are located.


Just met Kyla Ross!  She gets a check!

SPONSORS – The complete list of sponsors – without them we wouldn’t be able to have such an awesome event.  Thank you! 

HAPS LEADERSHIP – Names and photos of all board members, steering committee chairs, and senior staff.

LOTS MORE INFO – Not kidding – LOTS more info.  This tab has ELEVEN SUBSECTIONS with all kinds of great information – everything from maps of HAPS regions to Tuesday Committee meeting info.

HOSPITALITY – This contains several lists of restaurants and activities compiled by the 2016 host committee locals.  Most of the items have links to websites to make it easy to use.

NEWS – This is where cancellations, moved events, etc will be posted.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom!

HOTEL MAPS – Interactive floor plans of the hotel with info on each of the locations we’ll be using.  

GPS MAP – This is a map of Atlanta that shows your location and the locations we’ll be using – the hotel and the buildings on GA Tech campus.

GA TECH MAP – This is a link to the interactive GA Tech web-based map.

TWITTER – This is a direct link to the HAPS 2016 twitter feed.  If you want to be public, you can set up the Activity Feed to cross post to Twitter and lots of other social media. #haps2016 #HAPS2016

HAPS WEBSITE – This is a link to the HAPS website.




No smartphone or tablet?  Use the web version of the app!

The 2016 HAPS-Thieme Excellence in Teaching Award!

2 May

The Human Anatomy and Physiology Society and Thieme Publishers are excited to announce that Professor Mary Tracy-Bee is the winner of the 2016 HAPS-Thieme Excellence in Teaching Award.

Meet Mary Tracy-Bee, this year's winner of the 2016 HAPS-Thieme Excellence in Teaching Award!

Meet Mary Tracy-Bee, this year’s winner of the 2016 HAPS-Thieme Excellence in Teaching Award!

HAPS is all about teaching A&P, and we continually work together to make our own teaching better and to help others.  Throughout the academic year, the HAPS-L discussion group is buzzing with information, and at the Annual Conference we get to share using posters, workshops, Synapse! presentations, and Update Speakers.  Of course, we also share over meals, at social events, and we leap at pretty much any opportunity to chat.

Two years ago, HAPS and Thieme got together to provide the largest award given by HAPS. This award represents a partnership between HAPS and Thieme, both of whom are dedicated to supporting the best A&P teachers in the world. Establishing this award was a way of recognizing some of the amazing educators in HAPS.  Each year colleagues of nominate each other for this award, and each year a committee of distinguished HAPS members go through the agonizing process of narrowing the field and choosing a winner.  

The award includes funds to attend the HAPS Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA, May 21-25, 2016 as well as complimentary registration.  In keeping with the philosophy of the HAPS Annual Conference, Mary will share her expertise by giving the HAPS-Thieme Excellence in Teaching Workshop.

The 2016 winner, Mary Tracy-Bee, is a Professor of Anatomy at University of Detroit Mercy where she has been teaching anatomy to graduate students as well as undergraduate biology students since 1999.  She has also served as an adjunct professor at Oakland University and Wayne State University where she has taught medical students, other graduate health professional students and many undergraduate pre-professional students.  Mary holds appointments at three hospitals where she reviews anatomy with residents from many programs including general surgery, orthopedic surgery, GI, ENT, OBGYN, OMM and neurology.

As might  be expected, Mary has earned 24 other teaching and research awards including the Teaching Excellence Award from Oakland University and Educator of the Year from Wayne State University Physician Assistant Program.

Mary has published three anatomy texts and workbooks as well as e-books and many journal articles.  Her research involves engaging students in interactive anatomy education and investigating age related changes in the morphology of the common carotid artery.  

When not engaged in excellent teaching, Mary enjoys traveling, yoga, tennis, training for triathlons and spending time with her three children and extended family.

Come to Mary’s workshop at the Annual Conference in Atlanta this month and learn more from this inspired educator!  Here workshop is entitled “Best Practices for Teaching Effectiveness, Student Inspiration and Classroom Joy!” and will be at 8:30am on Wednesday, May 25, in room IC 103.  For more information, read on:

As experienced educators, we have learned first hand the importance of creating a teaching style that engages our students. Gone are the days of the classroom where facts were simply stated. Now is the time where we aim to inspire and teach critical thinking and compassion. Many of us accomplish this through service learning, peer-feedback, educational games and crafts, Thieme atlases, and discussing clinical vignettes. This presentation will focus on activities that help form inspired, smart students who want to be in our classroom. Come to hear about some tried-and-true activities and be prepared to share some of your own.