Friday, June 1, 2018


We’ve had a couple of days to sit back and reflect on Math and the Mouse 2018.  We, the professors, agree that this class was incredible, and we are so appreciative of the efforts of these students.  The class is designed to help students explore the ways mathematics is used to not only model real-world problems but also ways in which it is used to produce solutions.  Further, we want to foster in the students an inquisitive nature and sense of wonder associated with how they view the world.  This was on display in their final projects.  In each of the projects, the students decided the focus of the project, how to collect the data for the project, and with a little help from us, how to analyze the data. 

The group consisting of Andrew C., Lina, and Devon looked at the value of a FastPass at various points throughout the day.  They studied the incremental benefit of a FastPass in the morning for four rides in the Magic Kingdom and found that for rides like Haunted Mansion, the benefit gradually increases throughout the morning, but for rides like Jungle Cruise, there is a much sharper increase.  They also studied the effect of the afternoon parade on FastPass value and noticed that Jungle Cruise saw a noticeable dip in value in the afternoon during the parade.  Regardless of time of day, Peter Pan had a high value for a FastPass because that attraction has consistently high standby wait times.

The group consisting of Annie, Courtney, and Maddie looked at the potential impact of adding a single rider line to Space Mountain's queue after noticing that many space shuttles go into orbit with at least one empty seat.  They found a statistically significant difference between Space Mountain's wait time and the wait times of both Test Track and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, two popular rides that already have a single rider line.  They also did a regression analysis showing that as posted wait times of the standby line increase, so does the number of people who enter the single rider line.  They then concluded that Space Mountain could benefit from a single rider line to reduce the amount of time people wait in the standby line and brainstormed about ways Disney could implement this.

The group consisting of Ella, Rebecca, and Will studied the practical fill rate of Tower of Terror elevators (that seat 21).  They observed in practice that the procedure Disney employs to seat parties in the elevators has a 91% fill rate before searching for parties deeper in the queue meaning that 9% of seats are empty on average when only seating the party at the front of the line.  The students created two loading algorithms in addition to the one that Disney uses to see if there is a more effective way to increase the fill rate.  The students collected party size data and used this to simulate queues with an app (written by Dr. Bouzarth's dad).  They found that two of the algorithms were better at filling the elevators than the observed data with a 93% fill rate before searching deeper into the queue.

The group consisting of Andrew H., Ashley, and Lois mapped the Magic Kingdom to create a
network that models sight lines in the park with the goal of determining how many Mickey Mouse characters can be placed in the park without any two being visible to guests at the same time.  They used over 100 locations in the park and connected these locations with over 200 lines of sight.  They used techniques from graph theory to determine that 25 Mickeys could be placed in the park at the same time.  Many of their chosen locations were already near character meeting spots in the parks, so Disney does a good job of spacing out character locations. 

The growth that each of these groups showed during the course of gathering data and analyzing the data was amazing.  We were impressed with all of their progress.  To celebrate the successful final projects, we went to 'Ohana at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort for one last delicious group dinner before heading to the Magic Kingdom to end the trip where it began.  

Top 10 Math and the Mouse Experiences

To finish the blog for this Math and the Mouse course, we asked the students to submit their top experiences from the course.  We’ve compiled these into a Math and the Mouse Top Ten List.

10.  Fireworks

Whether your favorite spot to watch fireworks was on Main Street in front of Cinderella's Castle or while riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, fireworks and nighttime shows were a big hit with our group.  The Star Wars themed fireworks at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Illuminations at Epcot were great ways to end the night in those parks.  Expedition Everest also provided a great place to catch a fireworks show in a nearby park, as the lift hill provides a vantage point to see fireworks in all three other parks (as well as sunsets and double rainbows).

9. Food

Disney offers a variety of tasty alternatives, and so many of them stand out.  We had many group meals together, but our Tuesday night "Disney Dinners" brought us together at Biergarten in Germany in Epcot, Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, and 'Ohana.  The food was delicious and plentiful in all these cases, but the company took it over the top.  We did the Chicken Dance together at Biergarten, Dr. Hutson fought with Donald at Tusker House and Mickey ignored some of us at Tusker House, and we ate as a family at 'Ohana (after all, "'Ohana" means family!).  

There were many sweet treats, from tasting the Mickey ice cream bars we were modeling in one of our class activities to drinking way too much POG (passion fruit, orange, and guava juice), but time spent at Twistee Treat was a crowd favorite.  There was something for everyone on their menu, but it provided opportunities for us to hang out as a group, and the students enjoyed stuffing themselves onto the large yellow chair.

8.  The Keys to the Kingdom Tour

This tour explores the behind-the-scenes activities at the Magic Kingdom and integrates the history of Disney into the narrative.  Most students loved going into the “tunnels” underground.  We learned a lot of interesting Disney trivia and history. 

Luckily, the rain stayed away the morning of our tour, but came back with a vengeance that afternoon when we used our Magic Kingdom FastPasses in a sustained torrential rain storm and swam through ankle-deep puddles in Tomorrowland.

7.  The Magic Kingdom “Traveling Tourist Problem” Race

The Magic Kingdom race was really fun, and the students thought it was a good way to integrate solving a Traveling Salesman Problem while still having a fun day in the parks.  Even though we didn’t win, we agree.  The rain did not stay away the morning of this activity, as miners going on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at rope drop now understand what it feels like to be inside a car wash.

6.  Guest Speakers

We met with a variety of guest speakers, including representatives from five departments at Disney, the president of, and a Math and the Mouse and Furman alumnus.  These opportunities gave students a glimpse into how math can be used to solve interdisciplinary problems in real-world settings.  These speakers all emphasized how they have to be creative, effective communicators to solve problems as part of a team.  The interdisciplinary nature of each of their jobs highlights the need for skills that a liberal arts educations cultivates. #TheFurmanAdvantage 

5.  Favorite Rides

The students enjoyed getting to ride some of their favorite rides numerous times.  Beyond getting to ride fun rides, they provided a backdrop for lots of memories.  The line for Flight of Passage was often long, so it gave groups lots of time to get to chat and debate the finer questions in life, whether that be advising sessions with the professors or research into sugar-free gummy bears.  Toy Story Mania proved to be a good mentoring opportunity for Dr. Hutson to stress the importance of optimization algorithms while playing the game.  Students also enjoyed taking advantage of low evening crowds on Expedition Everest and Tower of Terror.  Even Lois and Ashley were clamoring to ride them by the end of the trip, despite initial hesitations and much screaming by Lois. 

4. Presenting at Disney  

The students developed quickly in terms of their presentation and communication skills when they were faced with the opportunity to present some of their class activities to Disney professionals.  Each group did a great job of breaking their problem down in a concise, clear way.  The audience offered suggestions and questions for future work and considerations to continue their work.

3.  Projects 

The students each worked on three projects during the course: a workforce scheduling project, a genetic algorithm project, and a project of their own design (which were described earlier).  These projects provided highlights for the group experience.  The process of accomplishing a common goal while learning to work together and bonding as a team was impactful for the group as a whole.  The variety of solutions produced on the workforce scheduling project exemplify how creativity and individuality in problem-solving approaches can create a more robust solution.  The genetic algorithm project showed how a simple idea borrowed from nature can be effective at solving hard problems.  The final projects gave students a taste of the full scope of a project in the real world where they have to identify a question to answer within given constraints (time, budget, etc.), gather data, select and use appropriate analytical tools, and analyze and communicate results.

2.  "Cozy, not tight"

This group bonded deeply as a whole.  From the early days of the course, they wanted to be together as a group, even pushing the bounds of personal safety and comfort to be all together in one log on Splash Mountain (which is safe, according to Disney, but we (the professors), were quite skeptical it could be done).  The students admit, it was "cozy, not tight," a mantra they carried through the entire trip. 

The group developed many nicknames for each other, with nothing but good natured ribbing behind them (we're looking at you, Fruit Loop).  Even the professors couldn't avoid nicknames (K-dawg, Mom, Dad, Funcle, poofs).  There were many inside jokes (chicken and meatballs, chicken nuggets, tender, winning the day, etc.), spontaneous chants (Hollywood! Studios!), puzzle games, and posed pictures.  The 15-passenger van was affectionately called a "box of nerds" -- how else would you describe a bunch of sweet mathematicians?!  The box of nerds (as well as the fun-size box of nerds, a.k.a. the minivan) were often the stage for music lessons and sing-alongs.  Many students came in hardly knowing anyone, but left the class with many new friends.  As one student put it, she loved "constantly having everyone's company and truly enjoying it." 

1.  The Payoff

This one is from the professors’ perspective.  The payoff for the decision to teach modeling is that the students can complete a difficult workforce scheduling project and talk intelligently with professionals working in Disney Workforce Management about the types of issues that arise in modeling such problems.  

The payoff for teaching network modeling and search procedures (including genetic algorithms) is that they can design their own search algorithms and have a peer-to-peer discussion with Len Testa, president of  

The payoff for teaching modeling under uncertainty is that the students can perform a park study, analyze their results, and increase their confidence in their own abilities.  

The payoff for writing a daily blog is to watch the students work together to articulate a day’s events, whether academic, technical, challenging, unexpected, or proprietary, to a broader audience.  

The payoff in meeting with a variety of guest speakers is watching the lightbulbs go off when students realize that they discovered a job they didn’t know existed and would love to do.  These payoffs are the entire experience for us, and we feel honored to be able to give this experience to the students.  Thanks for a great course!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Math and the Mouse by the Numbers

As we reflect on our time here, we (the professors) thought we'd pass along some data on the types of experiences we've had during Math and the Mouse.  We'll have one more blog post later this week to report on our last day in the parks and final group projects, but for now we'll give you a look at our May Experience by the numbers.
  • 12 Furman students
  • 3 Furman professors  
  • 2 vans (including one box of nerds)
  • 11 math courses' content represented
  • 7 majors/programs/minors represented (Applied Math, Math, Math-Econ, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Computer Science)
  • 8 guest speakers (including one Math and the Mouse Furman alumnus)
  • 60 hours spent on a backstage tour
  • 8 unique group projects
  • 6 engaged learning activities
  • 12 Lightboard videos viewed by students
  • 13 learning modules led by faculty
  • 75 dice used in Liar's Dice competition
  • 96 workers needed to staff Pecos Bill in the Workforce Scheduling project
  • 342 minute fitness for shortest genetic algorithm project
  • 1,327 final project data observations
  • 6 permutations of the big three Epcot rides
  • 69 minutes saved when riding Test Track first before Frozen and Soarin' at rope drop (compared to other permutations)
  • 103 vertices and 226 edges on the Magic Kingdom graph that can support 25 Mickeys
  • 25 hours spent collecting data for final projects
  • 148 meetings with friends of characters 
  • 685 FastPasses used
  • 4-inch deep puddle traversed in Tomorrowland during a torrential downpour
  • 2 jokes chosen on the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
  • 195 rides on a maintenance service elevator  
  • 10 trips to the Twilight Zone that go up first (out of 21)
  • 172 train rides to see Disco Yeti
  • 2800 minutes spent waiting in line to ride an Ikran banshee
  • 14,400 number of Tower of Terror parties seated on
  • 56 naps
  • 6.73 miles walked per day on average
  • 15,505 average steps taken daily by each person
  • 77 metal detector checks
  • 121 ice creams enjoyed
  • 49 different attractions visited
  • 107 rides where people got wet
  • 338,000 high score on Toy Story Midway Mania
  • 999,999 high score on Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • 229 maximum design score on Test Track 
  • 100 drink umbrellas used to protect from splashing while going down to the brier patch
  • 3 trips by Dr. Bouzarth taking students to the Minute Clinic or pharmacy
  • 1 skinned knee
  • 80 ear drums burst by Lois's screams
  • 18.5 glasses of POG enjoyed
  • 1 duck with attitude at Tusker House
  • 1 famous mouse on safari who shunned some of us
  • 43 stickers picked up off the ground (but 0 honorary custodian stickers earned)
  • 7 unidentified liquid spills
  • 14 chicken dances at Biergarten (including 3 poofs)
  • 6 times Dr. Hutson turned off the students' aux music (although to call it music is generous)
  • 20 party hats worn for a 6th birthday celebration
  • 16 project presentations
  • 5 memes created
  • 2 Funcle heel clicks
  • 12 times Devon won the day
  • 1 pole impact
  • 5 visits to Twistee Treat
  • 15 requests to go to Twistee Treat
  • 12 student maximum capacity of oversized Twistee Treat chair
  • 16 days where it rained 
  • 34 ponchos used  
  • 10 times Andrew H. avoided a group picture
  • 8 rope drops
  • 13 park closings
  • 12 students crammed into one log on Splash Mountain -- "Cozy, not tight"
  • 100 rides in the box of nerds
  • 2 teams who won the Traveling Tourist Problem
  • 276 minutes for the winning groups to complete the Traveling Tourist Problem
  • 15 "We're Celebrating" buttons worn (and possibly lost or smudged)
  • 20 consecutive days in Disney Theme Parks, including 8 days visiting Magic Kingdom, 5 days visiting Epcot, 6 days visiting Hollywood Studios, and 6 days visiting Animal Kingdom (the sum of which exceeds 20 thanks to park hopping)
  • 7 different MagicBand colors -- 2 (Furman) purple, 4 blue, 4 pink, 1 red, 2 green, 1 orange, and 1 gray
  • 140 minutes waited in the longest line 
  • 1,100 PhotoPass pictures taken
  • 10 hours of time-lapse video recorded
  • 2 royal guards for Belle
  • 64.9 maximum speed of any ride in WDW (in miles per hour)
  • 8 Beverly samples
  • 29 conversations with strangers about math/our class
  • 10 sing-a-longs
  • 35 minutes to listen to the cat song
  • 32 nicknames
  • Infinite memories made

Monday, May 28, 2018

Day 20: Filling the Void

As Math and the Mouse 2018 winds down, we give the students a break from the blog and give you a professor’s perspective on the course.  Over the next few days, we will blog on “MatM By the Numbers” and a final reflection.  Today, we thought we would give a brief update on the day, but then reflect, from an academic perspective, what exactly the students have accomplished in the course.

The day began with a morning class where the students picked the color and design of the class t-shirt.  We were impressed that the students organized the discussion on their own, and the professors, for the most part, stayed out of it.  After this discussion, the students updated us on their final project progress, and we are proud of the work that they are putting in on them.  We are also looking forward to the final project presentations tomorrow.  As part of the process of creating their final presentations, the students are creating a poster that they will use as part of Furman Engaged next year.

In the afternoon, we all headed to Disney Springs to go to The Void, a virtual reality experience based on Star Wars.  Here we all suited up in virtual reality gear to battle against the Empire.  In the game, we are rebels who disguise themselves as storm troopers to break into a ship to return a special item to the rebel cause.  It is really weird/cool to walk around and see friends as storm troopers through the virtual reality helmet and fight along their side as our mission involved shooting real storm troopers and even battling against Darth Vader.  At the end of the mission, everyone commented on how cool the experience was and how much fun they had.

Afterwards, we headed to Hollywood Studios to say goodbye to that park.  The highlight of the night was watching Lois and Ashley scream their heads off on Tower of Terror.  Actually, we are quite proud of the two of them for getting on the ride again.  The looks on their face while dropping though was priceless!

As we look back through the course, we want to emphasize the academic experiences these students have had.  We design the course so the students are introduced to applications of mathematics in the real-world in three parts:  mathematical modeling, algorithm design, and dealing with uncertainty.  In the three-week course, the students have learned (and sometimes re-learned) material that appears in eleven different mathematics courses at Furman (MTH 150 – Calculus I, MTH 151—Calculus II, MTH 160—Vectors and Matrices, MTH 250—Multivariable Calculus, MTH 255—Differential Equations,  MTH 330 -- Combinatorics and Graph Theory, MTH 335—Mathematical Modeling, MTH 337—Operations Research, MTH 340—Probability, MTH 341—Mathematical Statistics, MTH 435—Scientific Computation)!  They’ve learned to model real-world optimization problems such as those involving logistics, scheduling, and resource allocation.  These types of problems are not only applicable to Disney’s operations but also serve as foundational material for professionals working in the areas of industrial and systems engineering and operations management.  The students completed a fairly sophisticated modeling project involving assigning workers to shifts at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and CafĂ© to cover the demand throughout the day.  Although, their problem was a factor of 100 smaller than the ones solved by Disney, the concepts learned by students through the project were the essential concepts Disney (or your local McDonald’s) uses to schedule workers.   Further, one of the group’s final project is on modeling the Magic Kingdom as a network to determine how many Mickeys could be placed on the grounds without two being in anyone’s line of sight.

Once the students learned how to form a mathematical model, we showed them how to exploit the mathematical structure present in their created models to design algorithms to produce an optimal (or near optimal) solution.    Their investigation of algorithms consisted of those normally used to solve the types of optimization problems we discuss in the class.  However, their project in algorithm design was to design their own genetic algorithm to solve instances of the Time-Dependent Traveling Salesman Problem.  This is the same problem that companies like UPS, FedEx, and solve on a daily basis.  In fact, the genetic algorithm project was designed to help the students understand the types of algorithms uses in producing tours for their customers so that in our meeting with Len Testa, the President of Touring Plans, they are able to have a fuller understanding of that industry.  Further, one of the student group’s final project involves designing and comparing different algorithms for filling seats on Tower of Terror.

In the final stage of the course, we introduce students to some basic concepts in probability and statistics so that they might understand that all models are wrong because the inputs to those models are not always known with certainty and thus experience high variability.  Further, we discuss how Disney and other companies use simulation to test different possible cases that could arise from models as the likelihood of the inputs of the model change. Most of the students’ final projects incorporate some sort of probabilistic or statistical analysis ranging from regression analysis to predict how many people join single-rider lines as posted wait times vary to hypothesis testing to determine whether FastPasses become more valuable at different times of the day.

We would like to emphasize that we throw a lot at these students during the three weeks.   We don’t expect all of it will stick, but we hope that what they hear will pique their interests and inspire them to learn more by taking more classes in the mathematics curriculum.  However, we are always impressed at how much they actually do absorb from the course.  We are really proud of this group, and we hope by emphasizing the academic content in the course that you will be impressed by them as well.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Day 19: Letting Go of Epcot

Hi everyone! Your favorite three math students here (you know who it is; but if you don't it's Andrew Cromer, Lina, and Devon). We're here reporting for Day 19. As sad as we are for this trip to come to an end, we mustered up enough courage to blog about it. These last three days don't have set people to blog, so we went to infinity and beyond to save the day and blog.

We started off the day at our favorite time. Yep, you guessed it - rope drop! Tears slid down our cheeks as we watched the beautiful sight of the rope hitting the ground for the last time. However, these tears did not last long as the wind blew them off our faces as we did the family 5k over to Test Track. After we asserted ourselves at the beginning of the Test Track ride, we started our last circuit of Epcot rides. The group did Test Track and Soarin' together before parting ways. While apart people did a variety of attractions ranging from traveling the world, blasting off into space, and belting hearts out to Frozen (World Showcase, Mission Space, and Frozen Ever After). We then reconvened at the Land to fuel our bodies so we could get right back out there to fight the crowds and ride more attractions. After this, we said farewell to the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and journeyed back to the hotel.

Waiting for lunch

Dr. Hutson discusses clustering
After a little rest, we were thrilled to wake up from our naps as our dreams of math turned into a reality. We learned about data science and how Google ranks pages based on redirects to those pages instead of keywords. But no matter what Google does to improve, Bing is still superior (well, according to at least one blogger).  We also learned about clustering, which we are already professionals at because the 12 of us are so close and stay together. We finished with Markov chains and talking about how Google uses these to connect pages to one another. Additionally, we learned how to make our parents proud by gambling in casinos. The trick is to do sports betting, but only if you devote your entire life to analyzing stats, like the tweets an athlete sends out about how they are feeling after a game. Are you proud yet Mom?

Following class we split up into our project groups to work for a while before taking our daily trip to Twistee Treat. There were a few comments about whether this was a good idea before dinner but these were quickly shut down as it was obviously a great idea. After the patio outside Twistee Treat turned into an interesting environment with dogs, bouncy balls rolling to cars in the drive thru, and much name calling (all of which was "chicken nugget" mostly by Dr. Bouzarth's kids), we departed to return to the hotel and resume work with projects. But of course work couldn't yet resume before the calories from the ice cream were burnt off in the most productive of ways -- running around the playground with Dr. Bouzarth's kids. Since dinner was everyone for themselves, each group tapped into the collective thought that we all have since we refuse to split up and three groups wound up ordering pizza.

Twistee Treat shenanigans
Dinner was followed with some more project work as well as some free time. For the three of us this definitely did not include an hour long game of monkey in the middle... We look forward to what is to come but will also be crying ourselves to sleep at the fact we only have two days left. We just have to stay strong and remember "don't cry because its over, smile because it happened".

Signing off with a song recommendation - 100 ways to love a cat!

Devon, Murray (a.k.a. Andrew C.), and Lina

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Day 18: Memorial Data Crowds

"Can't touch this"
It's Andrew H. and Lois here for Day 18! We started our day bright and early with an 8 am rope drop at Magic Kingdom.  With the arrival of Memorial Day weekend and the sun, the park was finally ambushed with a mass of people that are so common to the "Happiest Place on Earth". We snuck our way around the crowds to get onto Space Mountain first; it was still as good as the first time.  From there, the class dispersed around the park. During this time, some students were keeping themselves entertained by rocking the boat but the cast members on Splash Mountain were not amused. While this was fun, we didn't enjoy it as much as creeping around Disney for some more data, the purpose of our expedition to the Magic Kingdom. We rejoined our data collecting groups for the rest of the morning.  Dr. Bouzarth dragged us away from the books to celebrate her son's birthday.  This time the flash mob was encouraged by Dr. Bouzarth.

After grabbing grub in Magic Kingdom, Dr. Hutson took all of us rowdy students to Hollywood Studios to complete our data collections.  Once we finished, Dr. Hutson couldn't resist challenging the class at Toy Story Mania.  Once again he prevailed, even with sharing some of his coveted secrets.

We couldn't be kept from our data so we headed back to the hotel to work on our projects.  One of the groups sent us back to the website that Dr. Bouzarth's dad graciously updated for their project.  The group working on this project split us into three groups, and we tested the efficiency of different algorithms.  The evening plan was originally to continue working on our projects and have some cookie cake to celebrate Dr. Bouzarth's son's birthday. We got some valuable input for our projects from our professors, also referred to as "Poofs". In our group's session, we translated maps of sight lines in Magic Kingdom into a matrix.  We will use this to maximize the locations to meet the one and only Mickey Mouse without other friends of Mickey in sight or too close by. Other groups organized their data so that they could make use of it. Seeing how lessons taught in class apply to solving real world problems has been one of the highlights of this class.  Another one of the highlights from this class occurred tonight as our sugar high from the cookie cake sent us into Meme Kingdom. This sparked a great deal of laughter as we closed out the night and prepared for another "Great big beautiful tomorrow".

Andrew Hartley


Friday, May 25, 2018

Day 17: Saying Goodbye to Disco Yeti

Hello everyone, Will and Maddie reporting for Day 17 of Math and the Mouse.  We got to wake up later again today, meeting for class at 9:30.  Yesterday, we expressed some interest in learning more about some topics in the field of data science.  Dr. Hutson began discussing linear regression, a topic which several of our speakers had touched on.  Linear regression is the method for finding a line of best fit for a set of data points.  There are two ways to find the slope and the intercept for the best fit line.  We started by using partial derivatives and sums in order to minimize the distances between data points and the line.  Then, Dr. Hutson showed us a method utilizing matrix multiplication, which accomplished the same goal.  After he explained these, we split into two groups and solved an example problem using each method.  We were thrilled to find that both groups produced the same solution.  Following class time, we broke into our final project groups to organize data and discuss what data still needs to be collected.

After lunch, we headed to Animal Kingdom to meet with our guest speaker, Reese.  We met him in Pandora, where he talked to us about numerous attractions throughout Disney World.  He gave us
interesting insight into his job as an electrical engineer and how different rides operate.  Afterwards, we were released to enjoy our final day in Animal Kingdom.  The students all walked straight to Expedition Everest, where we rode once as single riders and once using our FastPass.  Looking for a way to avoid what appeared to be an impending downpour, we hurried to the Festival of the Lion King for a colorful show.  Once the show ended, we were happy to discover that it was not raining, and we split into two groups for dinner.  One group ate at Restaurantosaurus in Dinoland USA, while everyone else went to Satu'li Canteen in Pandora.  After dinner, the Restaurantosaurus group went for a couple rides on Kali River Rapids and then met up with the Satu'li Canteen group as they were getting off of Primeval Whirl.  From there, four students and the professors went to ride Flight of Passage one last time.  The other eight students took on Primeval Whirl, Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safaris.  By the time the first group had completed their two hour odyssey into Pandora, we were all tired and ready to get some much needed rest.

We will have to take that rest while we can.  Tomorrow, we get back to hearing our alarms way too early, as we leave at 7 for rope drop in Magic Kingdom, followed by Hollywood Studios in the afternoon.

Will Alford
Maddie Preston

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Day 16: Winning the Day with Data

Hi everyone! Ella and Devon here blogging for Day 16 of the trip! We had a few new students join us today -- both Dr. Bouzarth and Dr. Harris had the rest of their families join us! This morning we started in with a later class, 9:30, which gave both of us time to play on the playground with Dr. Bouzarth's kids after breakfast.

Hands up for data!
In class we planned out what data needed to be gathered in Magic Kingdom this afternoon for our final projects. Once we got that figured out we learned about modeling from Dr. Bouzarth. She talked about how crowds can be thought of like liquids or gases. We then discussed discrete event simulation, which is when changes are made to the model only when something substantial changes rather than at fixed increments. Following this, we learned about agent-based modeling. This type of modeling looks at people as individuals, or agents, who are all following the same rules. To illustrate this, we went back outside by the playground. Sadly this time, we did not have Owen and William to play with, but we had math instead, which is just as fun. During this time we did two different simulations in which Dr. Bouzarth gave us two randomly chosen people. In the first one, we all followed the same rule of keeping the first person we were given between us and the second person. Once this started, we were walking around trying to achieve our goal. However, because of the nature of the activity we ended up in three different forever-rotating groups which proved to be comical. Afterwards we discussed how changing one little thing in the set up could have led to a completely different result. The second simulation had a change in the rules, we now were trying to place ourselves between the two people. This one ended very quickly with all of us in a clump. Thankfully, we are all close so this just furthered our theme of being "cozy, not tight". Unlike the first simulation, we discussed how even if small changes were made, like where we began or who our assigned people were, we still would have ended up clumped together. Back inside for the last part of class, we talked about how one simple rule led to a complex situation. And, relating to the first simulation, how the model would need to be run thousands of times to come up with even close to all the possible outcomes. This made us thankful to Charles Babbage for the invention of the computer, which can come up with the possible solutions a lot more efficiently than 12 college students running in circles around each other.
The 12 students clumping together during simulation 2
because there is no such thing as "too close".

To finish out this lesson, we took a look at agent-based modeling on a program that Dr. Bouzarth coded. This represented the queue and loading area of a line that had FastPass and standby. We got to see what would happen under certain changing conditions to the individual, which we could control on the program. After this we breaked for lunch before heading to Magic Kingdom at 1.
The Space Mountain group exasperated that they had
to ride Space Mountain ride in order to collect data. 
Once at Magic Kingdom, we broke into five groups of three for data collection. One group went right to Space Mountain where they counted party distributions and empty seats. The other groups each went to a different ride and calculated how much time a FastPass saved. Groups went to Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, and Jungle Cruise. Both of us went to Jungle Cruise, after a few difficulties. First we went to Splash Mountain but as soon as we got set up it closed down. Next we decided to try Pirates but naturally, with our luck, the same thing happened there. But third time's a charm and thankfully all went well at Jungle Cruise. We missed each other so much that after gathering data for a few hours, we all met up for a group dinner. After this we split back up to continue gathering data, but not before we took a detour through the 100 Acre Woods. After our first ride of the day (yes, we are doing work here not just riding rides), we mapped out sight lines across the park for another group's final project. We could be seen standing on brick walls waving to each other from across lands.
Ashely, Devon, and Ella collecting data outside Jungle Cruise
When we ran out of fun data to collect, nine of us went with the Harris family over to Animal Kingdom while three people stayed at Magic Kingdom with Dr. Bouzarth and Dr. Hutson. While with the Harris family, we found out Mrs. Harris and their son, Will, submitted Andrew Cromer's joke about math teachers and algorithm, which was chosen to be shared during the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. We gave Mrs. Harris and Will the ride of their lives in the 15 passenger van with the nine of us. They were blessed with our singing and humor, two things the professors have become all too familiar with. Once at Animal Kingdom, we took a quick ride on Expedition Everest before heading over to Flight of Passage. Although the posted wait time said 110 minutes we only ended up waiting 40 minutes, causing us to be super upset at the inaccuracy. We were hoping to have that extra 70 minutes to bond with the Harris family. After this we headed back to the hotel where we got to bond a little more by sharing spirit animals and favorite hobbies with everyone in the van. (Devon was a monkey and Ella was a turtle). The group that stayed at Magic Kingdom got in a few more attractions like Enchanted Tales with Belle and Its a Small World. Dr. Hutson tried to talk them into riding Small World a few more times but the group refused. Once at the hotel both groups completed a reflection before hitting the sack to be well rested for another day of fun and math.

Heigh ho, heigh ho. It's off to work (on our reflections) we go!
Devon and Ella
Us hard at work on the blog.