HAPS Web 14- The Histology Challenge

An archived imaged from an old histology challenge...
An archived imaged from an old histology challenge…

The HAPS Histology challenge, a fantastic benefit of  HAPS membership, was a the subject in an article on page 23 of the HAPS-EDucator’s Winter 2015 edition.  The abstract of the article states:

(The Histology Challenge) presents actual patient cases, in the form of photomicrographs of biopsy or surgical specimens, along with a “live” online discussion. Each case includes a series of questions designed to guide readers through the process of interpreting the photomicrographs, beginning with basic histology and progressing through the process of diagnosing the case. In this article, we review the history of the Histology Challenge, describe how it works, and describe some sample cases, to illustrate how they reinforce basic histology and introduce clinical applications. This article will also include suggestions for how these Histology Challenges can be used in A & P courses, and ways in which interested instructors can participate both in the online discussions and in production of future cases. 

The histology challenge serves many valuable functions for HAPSters and their students.  Some instructors use the challenge to beef up their own histology skills.  Others use the challenge to provide hands-on experiences for their students!  Either way, the challenge is a stimulating resource for HAPSters and their students.  So check out the Winter 2015 HAPS-EDucator and learn more about how you can take advantage of this fantastic benefit of being a HAPS member.

High Hopes for the Semester, part 2

Arrgh!  I hate microscopes!
Arrgh! I hate microscopes!

Microscopy…Arrgh!  It can be a bane for many students.  However, it can also be a gateway for many of them to truly understanding the material if I can only figure out how to help them reach through the fear and trepidation to the actual cool stuff.

It’s been a personal challenge for me for a few years now.  HAPS has been a godsend in helping me with this.  At annual conferences, I keep an eye out for new workshops on histology and microscopy (and I’m never disappointed).  Nina Zanetti‘s always good for an intriguing workshop on using microscopy to teach physiology.  Terry Bidle has a knack for helping make histology more hands-on to students.  Those are the concepts that I’ve tried to take to heart as I (hopefully) improve the histology component of my A&P courses.

Which jar contains the pseudostratified epithelium?
Which jar contains the pseudostratified epithelium?

I’ve tried to create a set of hands-on models that allow my students to see the basic concept of each basic tissue type before we actually look through the microscope.  For the epithelial tissues, I’ve filled small jars with styrofoam peanuts to simulate various epithelia.  In lab, I have 3×5 index cards that describe various locations in the body and the functional aspect of their epithelia, expecting the students to match the cards to the jars.

Can you tell which connective tissue is which?
Which petri best represents fibrocartilage?

For connective, muscle, and nervous tissues, I have created petri dishes with epoxy resin, doll eyes (cells), and other knick knacks.  Again, I have 3×5 cards to describe each tissue and have the students match cards to petris. The important detail, I tell the students, is not to memorize the color of each petri or the “which petri has rubber bands?“, but to understand “what would distinguish elastic tissue from reticular tissue?”  Does that sound familiar?

I see a lot of enthusiasm in the lab and am starting to see more enthusiasm the next day when we dig out the actual scopes and glass slides.  I’m overhearing the students discussing what to look for in each slide (actually figuring out components of the various tissue types).  This appears to be empowering the students; cross your fingers.