“The leg bone is connected to the knee bone. The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone.” But remembering the lyrics from the classic childhood song “Dem Bones” will get students only so far in anatomy class. 

Health science graduate Claire Farrell ’23 has created Anaphy, an app that allows students to study anatomy through an activity loved by children and adults alike — coloring.

During her first year at Clemson, Farrell often used a color-by-numbers app to unwind after a long day of classes. Among them were Anatomy and Physiology, a historically difficult course at Clemson that provokes high stress and test anxiety.

“I just remember thinking, ‘It would be such a good idea to color anatomy drawings and use it as a study tool,’” Farrell said.

She was surprised when she searched the app store and found nothing. She later began researching how to create an app and consulted with a friend in computer science. 

“There were many intricacies involved in the process that I was unaware of at first, and I spent the whole development process learning as I went,” Farrell said. 

Farrell created an extensive executive summary outlining the app’s purpose, target audience and how it would work. She approached her Anatomy and Physiology professor, principal lecturer John Cummings, with her idea, and he offered his support. 

She juggled developing the app with classes, working as an undergraduate lab assistant and serving as a mentor for FIRST, a University program designed to ensure success for first-generation college students. 

“It was such a period of growth for me,” explained Farrell, who wanted to accomplish something at Clemson that would make her stand out.

Anaphy combines color recognition and location association to allow students to study anatomy effectively. It includes multiple anatomy structure diagrams, each with a list of terms and associated colors for each part of the structure. After labeling and coloring a diagram, students submit their colored diagrams and receive personalized feedback, denoting what they got correct or incorrect. The app includes numerous diagrams for all the human body systems. 

Farrell presented the app to Clemson students taking Anatomy and Physiology. She and Cummings also conducted a workshop and presented the app at the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society conference in spring 2023. Farrell won an award in the conference’s poster contest.

“I was so happy to see that the students really appreciated the app because I created it for them,” she said. “I knew it would have been helpful for me when I took the course, so I hoped it would be helpful for other students.”

This app is now available to students taking Anatomy and Physiology at Clemson and other universities. 

Cummings said he is thankful to have played a role in Farrell’s development of the app.

“That’s why I come to work,” he said. “I like to see students awaken to learning, to see students accept the challenges of having to formulate new learning strategies.” 

The pair plans to continue working on the Anaphy app to make it more user-friendly and accessible for students nationwide. 

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