Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Report Abuse   |   Sign In   |   Register
Annual Conference Guide for First-timers

HAPS is an inclusive organization, and that inclusiveness is a hallmark of the annual conference.  First-timers are welcomed and celebrated and treated well.  We try to make sure that first-timers always have a friend and never eat alone!

The HAPS annual conference runs from Saturday evening through Wednesday afternoon, with an optional vacation or touring day on Thursday.  Our Board of Directors and Steering Committee Chairs arrives a day or two early to take care of business and ensure everything is ready in place for the conference.

The annual conference is divided into major two sections.  These two sections are referred to as the "Update Speakers” and the "Workshops.”  The terminology is different from what some other organizations use, so please keep reading below.  The Update Speakers portion of the conference includes exhibitors and takes place at the host hotel.  The workshops take place at a local college or university and usually involve transportation from the host hotel to the university or college.  

In addition to a conference booklet (that lists the activities of the entire conference), HAPS also provides a conference smartphone app (free download for iOS and Android operating systems, including tablets).  The conference app lists all talks and activities, has a running ticker of the HAPS twitter feed, and provides live updates during the conference itself.



Annual conferences begin on Saturday night with a welcome reception, typically at 8 pm (this allows most people to schedule their incoming flights and travel for earlier that day).  All registered members and registered guests are invited to the reception.  It is great to have a chance to re-establish old friendships and start new ones before the actual business of the conference begins.

Sunday morning starts with a first-timers breakfast at 7:30.  The breakfast is free to first-timers, but you must register in advance so we can determine proper menu count.  The breakfast brings first-timers together at tables with other first timers and a president-emeritus of the organization, and learn more about HAPS.  The Steering Committee Chairs will introduce themselves as well, as you will learn about fun opportunities exclusively for first-timers.  

Following the breakfast, the first day of Update Speakers series begins with the first speaker and the conference exhibition hall fills with participants.  There are typically five or six Update Speakers who give their talks on Sunday and Monday.  Many of these speakers are nominated and sponsored by HAPS partner organizations and are leaders in their fields.  The organizing committee for each year’s conference decides on the themes to be addressed by the Update Speakers - some years the talks are all on the same general topic, other years they span an array of topics.

Between the Update Speakers talks are opportunities to see the poster sessions and visit with the exhibitors.  The exhibitors in particular are a real benefit of a HAPS annual meeting - they bring items of particular interest to HAPS teaching-focused membership.  The exhibition hall is closed each day for lunch and this is a great opportunity to spend a little bit more time with an exhibitor if you want to hear more about their products: take an exhibitor to lunch!

Sunday night is typically left open for members to plan their own activities, or to just get some rest after a full day of activities.  If you are not sure what to do, ask a board member or steering committee member - they will be wearing HAPS logos to make them easy to spot.  We are all here to help!

Monday morning usually starts with a fun run or a scavenger hunt that serves as a fundraiser for the HAPS Foundation.  The Foundation provides an array of scholarships and fellowships to HAPS members (including some to defray the cost of attending the annual conference).  It is a good cause and lots of fun, so set your alarm and come on out.

After the fun run (and with plenty of time to shower and change), HAPS holds its annual business meeting.  The meeting is important for HAPS organizational business, and typically involves updates on the major initiatives as well as membership votes on changes to the bylaws.  All members are encouraged to attend and participate.  Once the annual business meeting concludes, we continue with a second day of Update Speakers.  The Update Speakers on Monday follow the same schedule as Sunday afternoon with Update Speakers giving talks and breaks between them to visit the poster sessions and exhibitors.  

Monday afternoon the door prizes, raffle winners, and other fun giveaways signal the end of the first phase of the annual meeting.  There typically is a HAPS Social (including heavy appetizers and drinks) on Monday evening.  Again, the Social is included in the conference fee and everyone is encouraged to attend.


Tuesday is a big departure from the previous two days in several ways: the focus moves to a local university or college, and the pace changes to a more intense 4-5 talks per day.  The exhibition hall at the hotel is no longer a focal point and all attention turns to the campus.  There are several reason for the move to a different venue: Firstly, spending our final two days at a college (versus the hotel) keeps down registration costs.  Secondly, a college has many more labs and classrooms that are suitable for the workshop presentations than a hotel ever would.

HAPS has traditionally referred to all presentations that occur on Tuesday and Wednesday as "workshops” and this tradition continues today regardless of the format of the presentation. Some presentations are traditional speaker-with-a-powerpoint type presentations, while others may be held in a lab and have participants act as ‘students.’  Regardless of the format, all workshops are designed to be interactive, informative, and engaging.  No boring sessions where the participants are supposed to be quiet and just listen here!  Instead, prepare to talk with fellow educators, practice an innovative teaching and learning technique, or get your hands dirty in one of the lab sessions.  

The workshops are a highlight for many participants.  Virtually all presenters are HAPS members and all are dedicated and impressive educators.  Sponsored talks are allowed, and some exhibitors take the opportunity to showcase their products in this setting (sponsors pay a fee to give these talks and all sponsored talks are noted in the booklet and on the smartphone app as being "sponsored”).  The vast majority of workshops are presentations specifically related to teaching A&P, and this is likely the greatest concentration of talks on A&P teaching found anywhere in the world.

Most years HAPS will have 12-15 talks in each time slot, with four or five time slots per day.  That can add up to as many as 150 talks in two days!  Lunch is provided and is the only major break of the day.  One or two of the talks scheduled in each time slot may be oversubscribed such that not everyone can fit into the room.  If this happens, that talk is rescheduled to be given again that same day or next morning as a "second chance” talk if the presenter agrees.  Second chance talks are scheduled immediately in the conference smartphone app and posted to the central bulletin board - so check your smartphone or the bulletin board frequently.

After the last workshop period on Wednesday, the last bus takes participants back to the hotel and the annual conference is officially over.  But that does not necessarily mean that everyone goes home.  Over the years a tradition has emerged of doing some local sightseeing on the Thursday after the end of the conference.  HAPS organizers have now started organizing a few options in addition to what members organize themselves.  Check the website for these Thursday travel options and know that you won’t be alone if you decide to hang around for another day.

Look for the conference app to be available for download for iOS and Android around the start of May and watch the HAPS facebook page for updates on the conference, new features of this year’s app, and other HAPS news throughout the year.

If you still have questions after reading this guide, please feel free to contact us by sending an email to