|Kyle, Kelly, Hallie, and William present the Mickey Bar|
project during their meeting with Disney professionals.
|Rosie, Samantha, Macie, and Madison present the Yak & Yeti |
workforce scheduling project to the Disney professionals.
|Hannah, Duncan, Katherine, and Bailey present the Traveling Tourist|
Problem activity to the Disney professionals.
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 such as hypothesis testing to determine whether FastPasses become more valuable at different times of the day, to determine whether one scores higher on Toy Story Midway Mania with his or her dominant or non-dominant hand, or to determine whether our simulated loading procedure for Tower of Terror and Kali River Rapids was the same as Disney’s loading procedure. We are very proud of each group’s effort on these projects and how they bonded and worked as a team.
Outside of these larger themes that get woven into course projects, we also spent time discussing other aspects of quantitative and scientific importance in Walt Disney World. After spending lots of time exploring theme parks, either in structured or unstructured ways, the students had a lot of curiosity about a variety of things. To address some of this curiosity, we talk about some of the physics of attractions and elements of “the show” that Disney presents to its guests. We talked about the physics of rollercoasters, simulator rides, fireworks, crowds, and arcade games. We discussed the technology behind MagicBands, projection shows, 3D experiences, and interactive animated attractions. We explored the rich history of Walt Disney’s ideas for audio-animatronics both in class and during our backstage tour experience.
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 also hope that by exposing them to professionals working at Disney and companies tangential to Disney that they will appreciate how the concepts they are learning are used in industry. By meeting with Math and the Mouse alumni that are now working for Disney, we hope they see opportunities for growth in their pathway through Furman and beyond. Hopefully, as a result of the course, the students will discover that at Furman they are building the tools in they need to succeed in industry. The students are discovering how to learn new things quickly in a way that they can communicate technical information in an effective way to their teammates, to the general public (via this blog), or to a more technical audience. They learn the importance of working together and communicating effectively with visual presentations, writing, and speaking. To those parents out there, 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.
We feel very lucky to have shared this experience with these students! Not only did they rise to the academic challenges that we gave them, but they also brought joy and laughter to the process. There was a lot of sweat, and maybe even some tears, but people came together to accomplish a task many times. We all learned about each other in a way that enhances the time we spend learning together. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to get to help these students learn and to also get to know them as people. Thanks for all the memories!