HAPS Leadership (#6): Cadaver Use Committee

“The first cadaver that I dissected was in undergrad at Colorado State University.  It was surreal and the table next to me kept humming the song Mr. Sandman, so for years after I would hear Mr. Sandman every time I dissected.  My first cadaver dissection was the most influential time in my life.  It changed my career path from pre-med to anatomist and I am so thankful for it.  To this day, I look for anomalies and the ‘‘they should have died from that’’ and my students pick up on that excitement.”

Cadavers can teach us so much!
Cadavers can teach us so much!

Melissa Carroll is co-chair of the Cadaver Use Committee.  This group has put in a lot of work over the years to be a source of information when you want to learn about cadaver labs.  With several very experienced members over the years, they have created a strong folder of resources for you.  Melissa is helping the Cadaver Use Committee to keep that information current and available.

“The first thing to think about when designing a cadaver lab is ventilation, exhaust, and spacing.  Cadaver labs are expensive ventures and need a dedicated planning team (which should include architects, environmental health and safety experts, and an outside resource from a ‘dream’ lab).  Double and triple-check your design and be patient; it can be a very long and expensive process.”

Some of the resources that the Cadaver Use Committee has available include ‘Helpful Tips and Documents” for the cadaver lab, information on where to publish, reviews of supplemental resources (when cadavers aren’t readily available), as well a network of dissection experts from across the continent.  This committee has offered assistance in the design of numerous labs, helped find resources when regulations block the ‘dream lab’ from developing, and provided advice and mentorship for instructors new to running a cadaver lab.

“I was enamored by the selfless act of donation by the cadavers.  Once I started dissecting, the world dropped away and the cadavers taught me so much.  I was focused and enchanted.  I want our committee to help you and your students have same experience.  We’d love to hear your questions and needs; we’ll do our best to help you.”

HAPS Leadership (#5): Western Regional Director

Checking phone messages. “Hi Anne, this is Caryl Tickner from HAPS. I’d like to talk with you about running for a position on the Board…”  Hmmm, Really?

Anne Geller, our W.R.D.
Anne Geller, our W.R.D.

I sort of fell into teaching as a second career around 18 years ago now (can it really be that long?). My colleague at the time introduced me to HAPS, and I attended my first annual conference in Portland, Oregon in 1996. Like many of you, I was immediately hooked. What a great way to learn how to teach from so many experts, and better yet, to make lifelong friends who were as passionate about the human body as I was (and also great fun to hang out with). I was a dedicated HAPSter, but running for Western Regional Director on the Board of Directors? Why would they even ask me? What could I possibly have to contribute?

According to our P&P, (which I learned stood for Policies and Procedures, our guideline manual), a Regional Director’s duties include:

  • Serving as a voting member on the Board of Directors for a two-year term, and along with other Board members, establishing and managing the policies and affairs of the Society.
  • Serving as the representative of a HAPS Region, acting as a liaison between his/her constituency and the Board of Directors.
  • Promoting increased involvement of the region’s membership in the activities of the Society.
  • Communicating with his/her constituency via email at least once annually.
  • Serving as a member of the Membership Committee and the Regional Conference Committee to promote local and regional conferences in his/her respective regions with the goal of soliciting one such conference per two-year term.
  • Attending Board of Director meetings held in mid-year and in conjunction with the Annual Conference, the Annual General Meeting held in conjunction with the Annual Conference and any Regional Conferences in their region for the purpose of welcoming attendees and promoting membership in HAPS.

I am now in my last year as the Western Regional Director, having been re-elected to a second (and final) term. Getting involved with the leadership of HAPS has been a wonderful experience. There’s much that goes on “behind the scenes” to keep it running smoothly that I would have never known about, had I not been on the Board. And considering that we only have two paid positions (Executive Director and Business Services), this organization of 1700 members is, and always will be, run by a dedicated, ever-changing group of volunteers. I’ve had the opportunity to meet even more talented, creative A&P instructors as a representative at conferences, and been able to promote HAPS to potential new members. Being on the Board has given me an opportunity to give something back to this fabulous organization that embraced me and mentored me as a new faculty member 18 years ago, and whose members continue to inspire me to become a better A&P instructor.

Dive in and experience the thrill!
Dive in and experience the thrill!

So if you ever get “the call”, I hope that you will consider saying yes; because what I’ve learned over these past three and 1/2 years is that we all have something to contribute, and I can honestly say that I’ve gotten more from this experience than I ever thought I would.

HAPS Leadership (#4): Treasurer

Let's go for a ride!
It’s been an amazing ride!

Take it from the Money Honey, keeping track of HAPS’ finances is a complicated yet very rewarding experience.  Elizabeth Becker has been the Treasurer for HAPS since 2008 and is still finding excitement in each year.  Having said that, Elizabeth has decided to step down as Treasurer at the end of this term, but not before she gets to tell you about her experience within the HAPS Board of Directors.

Elizabeth has been an active member of HAPS for a number of years.  She has previously served on the Safety Committee and as the Central Regional Director (2002-2006).  Those experiences allowed Elizabeth to see HAPS from a broader perspective.  She got to see the “behind the scenes” activities that allow the organization to survive and thrive.  We’ve been busy these past two years, revamping the HAPS website.  Elizabeth has been able to see the work that all of the Board has put into it, especially Dee Silverthorn and Peter English.  She’s been able to see the organization grow with the hiring of ASG as our management firm and Peter English as our Executive Director.  She’s been able to see the creation and management of a number of regional and annual conferences.

What didn’t you expect when you were elected Treasurer?

The technological changes that we’ve gone through.  The Board has used technology to run our monthly meetings, progressing through teleconferences, online forums, Skype, and now Google Docs.  Technology has made her job as treasurer easier as well.  When she started, all conference registrations were mailed in and all checks crossed her desk.  Now, we have online registration and most checks can be cleared through ASG (she still oversees any payments to ASG itself and approves any payments above a certain monetary level).

Describe a benefit of being HAPS Treasurer.

The view.  It’s been amazing to see the complexity and organization of HAPS.  It’s been incredible to see the financial structure and understand how to help keep it healthy.  The Las Vegas conference taught us a lot of about hidden costs in a conference, which has helped us to (hopefully) prevent future surprises.  Incidentally, Jacksonville is shaping up so well and will be an amazing treat come this next May.

What advice do you have for the next Treasurer of HAPS?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Between Peter and ASG, you have resources to help you understand the financial picture of HAPS.  You get to be the expert on the HAPS budget for the Board, so you can help others understand what is necessary to keep us afloat.  You have to be able to see the organization as a whole, but also willing to sweat the details.  You have to be willing to ask “Why are we paying for this?” when presented with a bill.  It’s a good way to understand how well HAPS can work and what we can do for it.

Rub my belly now!
Rub my belly now!

Elizabeth would tell you more, but Thai is covering her keyboard and making it clear that it’s time for a tummy-scratching.  Thanks, Elizabeth.

Flipping A & P: Hi, my name is Elaine and I’m a K+ ion!

Painting of neurons
Pepto Bismol Nerves by mochaloda

I’m always getting crazy ideas.  Sometimes they’re crazy good ideas, sometimes just plain crazy.

This week’s crazy idea came out of my frustration with teaching cell membrane potentials.  It’s a very difficult… no, that’s too negative…challenging concept for students.  A series of pictures in a textbook is hard to visualize.  A video or animation is better, but students still have a hard time internalizing the concepts of resting membrane potentials, local potentials and action potentials.

My crazy idea was to borrow a page from Miss Silvers play book.  Miss Silvers was my kids’ science teacher at Science Hill Middle School (yes, our town is really named Science Hill).  She retired a few years ago and was one of the best teachers I have ever known.  The students all dreaded taking her because she was so demanding, but my kids still remember lessons they learned in her class over eight years ago.  (I’m happy if my students remember lessons from the previous semester.)  My daughter says that the science she learned in Miss Silver’s classes carried her all the way through high school and part way through her college science classes.  My daughter can still vividly remember lessons in Miss Silver’s classroom because they were so active.  Miss Silver’s always had them up and moving, acting out processes, testing themselves against each other, and learning by doing.

I was worried at first that college students would find these kinds of activities too hokey.  They were adults, not kids!  I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that most students like fun, even if it is hokey. A few semesters ago I started putting smiley faces on assignments and quizzes with perfect grades.  Hokey, I know.  Kindergarten stuff.  Students LOVE them!  God forbid that I should forget to put a smiley face on a paper.  Now I announce “Smiley Face!” when I hand back those papers and those students cheer and beam.  Hokey is obviously not a barrier.

So I decided I would disrupt the daily class routine and instead of having our usual clicker question session we would ‘Be an Action Potential’! We moved the desks into the shape of a neuron (as best we could).  I handed out signs to the students identifying them as ions, voltage gated ion channels, ligand gated ion channels, Na+/K+ pumps, acetylcholine (2 students, of course), acetylcholinesterase, and all the other components of neurons.

We started by building the cell membrane with ion channels and Na+/K+ pumps. The pump/students established the resting membrane potential by moving student ions between the desks to be on the correct side of the membrane.  Then we created a local potential by opening ligand gates in the dendrites and letting the students labeled ‘Na+ ion’ into the neuron.  As we discussed the movement of ions during an action potential, the students moved around and became the action potential.  We ended with the release of acetylcholine into the synaptic cleft and then the removal of acetylcholine by acetylcholinesterase.

The students were certainly attentive during the activity.  It’s hard to be distracted by a text message when you might have to repolarize the membrane.  With any luck, ‘Being an Action Potential’ will be as memorable as one of Miss Silver’s classes.  Or maybe I’m just crazy.

HAPS Leadership (#3): Foundation Oversight Committee

Busy, Busy, Busy!
Busy, Busy, Busy!

The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society (HAPS) is dedicated to helping you learn.  We’re working ourselves to the bone to help you gain valuable learning experiences.

The HAPS Foundation Oversight Committee offers a number of sources of financial aid to HAPS members and students.  Their aims are to encourage attendance and participation at the HAPS Annual Conference, to support student and faculty research, and to encourage participation in HAPS-Institute courses.    The HAPS Foundation was created in 2009 to build a financial pool of money that could make these efforts a reality.

The Committee currently administers the following grants and scholarships:

  • The Robert B. Anthony and Adjunct Faculty Scholarships and the HAPS Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Travel Award, which provide support for new members to attend the HAPS Annual Conference;
  • HAPS-I Scholarships, which cover the cost of tuition for these graduate-level courses;
  • The Sam Drogo Technology in the Classroom Awards, providing financial support for members presenting workshops at the Annual Conference;  and
  • Faculty and Student Grants, providing financial support of research by HAPS members and students.

They’ve been working on improvements to our review and approval procedures.  These include development of an electronic application process that will make submission and review of applications easier and more efficient and the adoption of uniform application submission deadlines.  In addition, they have recently begun to consider and grant HAPS-I Scholarships on a quarterly basis, reflecting the increasing number and varying start dates of HAPS-I courses.  Submission deadlines will be announced to the membership and displayed on the website.

Ask Don about the ladder.
Ask Don about the ladder.
Ask Bob about the shower caps in Las Vegas.
Ask Bob about the shower caps in Las Vegas.

Look for more information on Grants and Scholarships in the near future.  You can email the co-chairs if you have any questions.  Don Kelly is a Professor in the Center for Life and Health Sciences at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York and is a past President of HAPS.  Bob Crocker is a Professor at Farmingdale State College and Director of the Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction Program at the New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, New York.  Check out the web page for the Foundation Oversight/Grants and Scholarship Committee.

The deadline for the next quarter of HAPS-I scholarships is Nov. 15, so check it out quickly.

Flipping A&P: Going All The Way

 “V"J day in Times Square” inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous photo.
“V”J day in Times Square” inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photo.

I’ve been in a relationship with Flipping for over a year now.  I think it’s time to take this relationship to the next level.  It’s time to ‘Go All The Way’.  That’s right, Flipped Mastery.

I really love flipping my class.  I feel that my students have the chance to obtain a deeper understanding of the course material with this instructional method.  Students work WITH the material and don’t just memorize it.  Unfortunately, this is not true for all my students.  Some participate too little in their groups and generally these students do poorly.  But there isn’t really a way to FORCE them to be actively involved.  This has led me to consider the next step: Mastery.

With Mastery, every student would have to be actively learning.  They would have to master a subject before they could move on.  No one is struggling to keep up.  And on the other end of the spectrum, no one is bored waiting for the next topic.  Unhappily, this will probably mean even more grading for me.  Instead of eight group worksheets every day, I might have as many as thirty two individual worksheets to grade.  But I’d rather grade more, but better, assignments than fewer, worse assignments.

I feel that I could help students even more by letting them make choices about their education.  Most students are more active in my classes now, but they still do what I say when I say to do it, at least during class.  I’m hoping that students will be more motivated to complete their work when it is their choice of which assignments to do and in which order.  Why do students need to study topics in the same order as the book?  Is it necessary to study the Integumentary system before the Muscular system?  As long as topics are scaffolded, I don’t see why students can’t choose their own path through the material.  The coursework can become a tree with multiple branches, rather than a rigid linear path.

It will also take a bit of work to come up with a menu of assignments for each topic, but I think that grading a variety of assignments will make grading more interesting for me, too.  It is so tedious to grade the same assignment over and over and over.

The one thing that has held me back from taking the plunge is the loss of group interaction.  If all the students are working at their own pace, no one will be working together.  The gurus of Flipping, Aaron Sams and John Bergmann, say in their book Flip your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day that students will automatically organize themselves into learning groups.  I hope that this is true of my students because I have seen a real benefit to student collaboration.

I don’t think I’m ready to fully commit in all my classes, but I think I’ll take a deep breath and jump in with both feet into at least one course.  I just hope that ‘Going All the Way’ doesn’t end in tears.