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.
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!
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!
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.
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.