Mark Stent – maths nerd, data scientist and statistician (and an all-around good guy) – is here with the knowledge, insights and answers to add some excellent marks to the equation.
In addition to being a producer, director, mentor, record label owner, MAUStrack royalty platform co-creator and fitness guru, Stent is well-known as a SAMA nominated DJ who even played an opening party gig for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
But few people know that he's a chartered statistician, holds a degree in Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics and is studying towards his MSc degree in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. All and all, a pretty cool dude to have in your maths corner.
And that's precisely what he's here to do – with News24's #mathswithmarkstent he'll be taking your questions once a week, helping you to solve the "unsolvable" and to not only pass the "unpassable", but ace it.
Maths has often been labelled as one of the subjects that learners don't like, so how does one make it cool?
"Firstly," Stent insists, "maths IS cool! EVERYTHING around us is maths in some way. The way things work and move in the world is maths, the music suggestions you get on your phone or computer is maths, and even social media is an algorithm, which is maths."
In fact, there isn't one thing in the universe that isn't related to maths, he reveals.
"I think one of the biggest misconceptions about maths is that it's a boring subject or that it is difficult to learn," Stent adds, sharing that people believe they aren't good at maths because they don't have some other 'maths genes', but that's not true. Maths is a way to understand the world around us and solve practical problems in our day-to-day lives.
Part of the problem is that maths in school focuses mainly on formulas, without answering the "so what?" of what these formulas mean in the real world, Stent says.
"We should be teaching learners all the cool ways maths can be applied outside of school, showing them that it's not just about numbers but about logical reasoning, problem-solving, understanding and changing the world around us in awesome ways," he adds.
So where did his passion for maths come from?
Stent says he was lucky enough to have an extremely gifted father who loved numbers, and a bunch of excellent teachers at school.
"My parents instilled in me a love for the role of mathematics in the world from a very young age, and since then, it has always fascinated me and kept me wanting more," he says.
Stent reveals that he has been obsessed with the Fibonacci sequence in nature since childhood, and is now obsessed with the math behind artificial intelligence (AI). He shares that he is also a natural problem solver and likes understanding how things work.
Ok, but what makes a good maths teacher? Stent insists that first and foremost, a good maths teacher loves maths (as obvious as that sounds). But not just that, they need to be passionate about it and understand it so well that they can adequately engage with learners - explaining the complicated things in simple terms… and having fun doing it.
They also need to be good at providing constructive feedback and guidance on how students can improve their understanding without feeling like they are the only ones not grasping things. Maths is for everyone, and a good teacher will bring that out, he believes.
"Maths has done so much for me, and it's been at the centre of every part of my life," Stent shares, adding "Much of that, I believe, is down to having great teachers at school that inspired me to love numbers. I would love to be able to inspire someone into the world of mathematics the way my teachers did to me."
This is what kicked off the #mathswithmarkstent video series, which will be showcased on News24 over the coming months. Watch this space!
Describing what matrics can expect from the weekly maths video, Stent explains that he'll tackle a couple of questions submitted by learners every week and walk them through them step by step.
"I'll also give short and simple explanations of problems faced in the matric curriculum and maybe, from time to time, some fun ways to use maths in the real world. "I may also learn a thing or two along the way!" he adds.
He encourages students to send their questions, adding that he thinks you'll be surprised how many people struggle with maths because they didn't feel they could speak up and ask questions.
"My twin daughters have had similar issues along the way. There is no such thing as a stupid question here. We tackle them all," he stresses. Sometimes all it takes is a simple, different-angle-explanation for the penny to drop, he says, adding, "I don't claim to be a genius, but I would love to help students see different ways of finding solutions to mathematical problems. If I don't know the answer, I will find it for you."
Have a matric maths question you'd like to submit to Mark?
Send an e-mail with your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and stay tuned for further details!
Who is Mark Stent?
As DJ, director and producer, SAMA nominee, and co-creator of MAUS, a revolutionary royalty-claiming app for artists on digital platforms Stent has roots in the music industry, but he is also a Chartered Statistician (ICCSSA) with a BSc degree in Maths and Mathematical Statistics. In his spare time he offers his services as a Senior Data Science mentor - mentoring data analysts around the world, when he's not working out, that is.
Stent is passionate about health and wellness, something he once wrote a book about, and was the 2004 WABBA SA heavyweight bodybuilding champion and serves as a national judge for IFBB, WPF, IBFF bodybuilding federations. He is also a proud dad to three girls.
Remember to send an e-mail with your question to email@example.com and stay tuned for further details...
Share your stories and questions with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
Don't miss a story!
For a weekly wrap of our latest parenting news and advice sign up to our free Friday Parent24 newsletter.