In preparation for Discover NPS Day, NPS students Lt. Aaron Green and Lt. Cmdr. Cassie Hamblin do a practice run of their venue with a few members of the target audience. Hamblin and Green, along with Navy Capt. Clark Bone and Dr. Kathryn Aten, came up with a concept using techniques of social network analysis to help Harry Potter and Dumbledore’s Army squash the Death Eaters.
The team utilizes a custom application to share and evaluate different data sets about the Death Eaters and Dumbledore’s Army, and teach how techniques in social network analysis (SNA) can be used to make informed decisions.
“Today we are teaching kids how to look at data and make sense of it using Harry Potter as reference material,” said Hamblin. “Our CORE Lab colleagues built us an app that the kids will use to see what courses of action they can come up with to prevent the Death Eater’s from getting the Horcrux from Gringott’s Bank.”
During the dry run, nine children, volunteered by their NPS student and faculty parents, previewed the presentation and tested the software, among other goals.
“Most importantly, are they having fun and are they learning what we want them to learn,” Hamblin stressed.
Discover NPS Day Committee Chair Cmdr. Paula Travis says this venue is “a great example of collaboration” by different schools to present a broader perspective of NPS. Bone, from the School of International Graduate Studies, encouraged Information Warfare students to step up and show what they do, and Graduate School of Operational and Information Sciences students Green and Hamblin came forward. Rounding out the team, Dr. Kathryn Aten of the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy brought her expertise in social media and networking. The result, they hope, is an awesome and insightful experience, and another glimpse into what NPS does on a daily basis.
The event will be taught in approximately 45-minute sessions, where Green, Hamblin and other student volunteers will explain what social network analysis is, and then let attendees play with the application and see if they can find meaning behind the data. The discovery continues, as students continue to look for information in other NPS labs that may help them thwart Voldemort’s plan.
“What we are doing with Harry Potter is fictional, but we are using a very real process that is used in the real world. And hopefully, we leave them with the idea that it can be used elsewhere,” said Green.
“Family trees; Facebook friends; how grocery stores keep their shelves stocked; where all the parts of a car come from; these are all things that SNA can be,” he continued. “There are ways to apply these concepts to the civilian and defense worlds that could be applicable to middle school, high school and undergraduate studies.”
The annual Discover NPS Day event returns to the Naval Postgraduate School, Friday, October 26, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information, check out www.nps.edu/discover.