Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 15: Spy Kids

Hi everyone! It’s Lindsay and McKenna with your day 15 blog post. It’s hard to believe that we only have a week left! 

Morning of Math
We started off this morning with another class in Dr. Hutson and Dr. Harris’s hotel room. The morning’s subject was hypothesis testing. This is something all of us do every day, although we may not be aware of it or be making any explicit calculations. Dr. Harris introduced the concept by playing a game with cards. Zack picked 10 cards from a deck, one at a time, to see how many red cards he would draw. We were all surprised when the first four cards he drew were red, and by the 6th or 7th red card we were all very suspicious. After Zack had drawn his tenth red card in a row, Dr. Harris revealed to us that all of the cards in the deck except for one were red.

Our suspicion of Dr. Harris’s deck is an example of using hypothesis testing. We started off with the assumption that half the cards in the deck were red and half were black. If this assumption were true, the likelihood of Zack drawing all red cards would have been extremely low (a 1 in 1024 chance). Statistical testing follows a similar method. We first start off with a “null hypothesis.” In the example from this morning, the null hypothesis was that the deck contained half red cards and half black cards. If the analysis makes it very unlikely that the null hypothesis is true, we reject the null hypothesis.

Lunch with Lara Larberg
After class, we headed to Pammie’s Sammies for lunch and a meeting with Furman alumna, Lara Larberg. Lara works for Universal Studios, and while the May X is called “Math and the Mouse,” we thought it would be really cool to sneak over to the “other side” to see how she uses math in her job at Universal. Lara is the Assistant Project Manager for Universal, so basically she manages over twenty interactive effects. Her most recent project is Volcano Bay, which will be opening in 2017 in Orlando. Lara graduated summa cum laude from Furman in 2006 with degrees in music and sociology. She also had a non-degreed focus and passion for theatre. It was actually her involvement with the Pauper Players that she credits for propelling her into her career.  Lara couldn’t stress enough how important her Furman education was for getting her to where she is today. She noted that although it may not seem like she is using her two degrees specifically, she is using all of the skills and connections she acquired at Furman. Furthermore, she was also quick to point out that even though she started working more with the creative side of things, she now works very closely with industrial engineers. Her work combines art and math to produce an awesome interactive experience.

Projects at the Park
After our meeting, we headed to Magic Kingdom to do a bit of spying, otherwise known as more data collection. As yesterday’s blog post mentioned, we all spent some time making observations about several characters. Today, we were able to split off into our groups to focus on our particular topics.

My (Lindsay), Mary Lib, Molly, and Maria’s group is comparing FastPass+ lines to the regular standby lines. We want to determine whether getting a FastPass actually saves you a significant amount of time. To do this, we are collecting data from the three Mountains in Magic Kingdom—Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Space Mountain. Since we won’t be going back to Magic Kingdom again until Tuesday (our last day!) today was our only chance to collect data. Luckily, the other groups were very supportive and helped us collected data. We collected many types of data, but my personal favorite was counting the number of people entering and exiting the line. I’m sure we all looked very suspicious sitting by ride entrances and exits counting people walking by and scribbling in notepads.

Like Johanna yesterday, I (McKenna) am in “the character group.” While the data we were gathering was the same as yesterday (number of families in line, number who entered and exited, time spent by the character with each family, and number of autographs per family), the characters were not. Today, we had the opportunity to observe Peter Pan and Aurora.

Magical Memories
After we finished meeting those characters, we took a detour to see Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, for my own personal benefit. When I was just over a year old, I went to Disney World for the first time. I had already developed an affinity for Tigger, so when I saw the long line in front of me, I just couldn’t handle it. I had to see Tigger IMMEDIATELY. I ran away from my parents, skipped all of the other people in line, and attached myself to Tigger’s leg. Since then, Tigger has remained one of my favorite characters, and I have gotten a picture with him every time. This time, I was able to tell Tigger the story of my toddler mischief, and he decided that it was his turn to attach himself to me and not let go! Mary Lib also recreated some childhood memories today. Not only did she ride Barnstormer again, but she also wore the same exact shirt that she wore while riding Barnstormer—twelve years later!

Fireworks Finale
By ten o’clock we were all finishing up with data collection and were able to catch Magic Kingdom’s end of the night fireworks show, “Wishes.” The fireworks at Disney are spectacular, probably some of the best in the world. Though we had all seen the fireworks show multiple times from the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster, for many in the group (including the two of us) this was our first time watching the show from Main Street. The night ended with a special treat: a projection show on Cinderella’s Castle. Clips from Disney films, including classics like the Lion King and newer films like Frozen, were projected onto the castle, accompanied by music and fireworks. It was the perfect ending to another great day of math and magic.

Written by: Lindsay Eddy and McKenna Luzynski

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