Father-Daughter Duo at “Do the Math”

Father-Daughter Duo at “Do the Math”

  • August 31, 2023

After over two decades and with more than 950 live episodes in the books, “Do the Math” kicks off its 22nd season on Sept. 12. Although “Do the Math” was the brainchild of former KCSOS employees Janis Jones, coordinator of after-school programs, and Laurie Maclin, coordinator of instructional media, Michael Cushine, a GATE teacher with the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District, has served as the show’s host since the beginning and is proud of the way the program has evolved over the years.

Initially, the program focused solely on mathematics because data at the time confirmed that student performance in that area lagged more than other subjects. But over time, Cushine and the rest of the “Do the Math” staff felt it was important to include new ideas each year, while continuing to focus on math and its relation to other subjects.

“We have continually evaluated how we could keep the show fresh and relevant and have made many adjustments over the years,” Cushine said.

As the show transformed, evolving and adapting to include more STEAM content as time went on, there was one personal journey unfolding off-camera that no one really knew was happening.

Growing Up in the Studio

Mackenzie Cushine used to watch her father host “Do the Math” as she quietly did her own math homework in the next room. At only five years old when the show began, Mackenzie spent many of her formative years closely watching the organized chaos it would take to tape “Do the Math” successfully.

“I remember whenever I needed help with a math problem, I would just walk out to the studio and ask one of the tutors for help,” said Mackenzie Cushine. “I even remember welcoming viewers watching the show from home and introducing the tutors at the Tutor Bank!”

Year after year, the show would continue to expand. John Lenko, KETN Coordinator, needed more camera operators on the show and asked Mackenzie if she would be interested. She eventually joined the “Do the Math” staff as a camera operator during her sophomore and junior years.

Her natural ability to handle pressure and implement creativity in her work led her to be the first student producer, where she would help Mike plan the show and schedule guests.

“I was so comfortable in the studio by that point in my life, and I loved doing it,” said Mackenzie. “From my junior year in high school until my sophomore year in college, I worked with the “Do the Math” crew… and then got fired.”

Mike Cushine, who had been executive producing the show for over a decade, remembered deciding to fire his daughter after seeing how comfortable she was. It was a memorable moment that he says was necessary to ensure Mackenzie could experience other opportunities, he said.

“She was a wonderful student producer and has always been great at what she does,” said Mike Cushine. “I knew she had gone as far as she could at the show. If I didn’t give her this push, she would never go out and find better opportunities to pursue her passions in photography and filmmaking.”

At the time, Mackenzie remembers being disconcerted by having to find another job but eventually found an internship with Logic Films. This small, local film company is known for its award-winning short films and was exactly the work Mike Cushine wanted Mackenzie to experience.

At first, Mackenzie interned at the company for three semesters while she finished her bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in digital media from Cal State Bakersfield. Eventually, she became the director of operations.

“The time at Logic was the best thing that could have happened,” said Mackenzie. “Although I was busy juggling many responsibilities, I learned so much.”

Toward the end of 2022, KCSOS’s Communications department was ready to hire a full-time digital media specialist to help produce KETN’s various programs and projects. Mackenzie decided to throw her hat in the ring. After applying and interviewing for the role, she was finally able to come back to her roots.

Now, nine months into her new role, Mackenzie is beginning the new season of “Do the Math,” proudly helping promote and produce the show on the very set where she watched her father as a child all those years ago.

Do the Math Returns September 12

While mathematics is the core of “Do the Math” programming, the show has evolved into all things STEAM, with an emphasis on how science, technology, engineering, arts, and of course, math is applied within real-world situations and careers.

A segment called “Math in the Real World” features on-location segments at local businesses, organizations and other community locations where industry professionals demonstrate practical applications of STEAM concepts in their everyday jobs.

“The idea is to get young people to understand that what they are learning in school will serve them well when they get into a career,” Mike Cushine said. “It isn’t just about crunching numbers any longer. It’s about collaborating with others to find different strategies when approaching a problem.”
The live TV show will air from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. most Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school year. Monthly guests from the Bakersfield Museum of Art, Science 4 Kern, and the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District’s Music Department will demonstrate hands-on learning with local students. In addition to hearing from career experts around the world, “Do the Math” is fortunate to speak with experts from the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center throughout the entire season.

Free, phone-in tutoring is available from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays by calling (661) 636-4357 or toll free at (866) 636-6284. Students can also email their questions to dothemath@kern.org.

“Do the Math” can be seen in Bakersfield on Spectrum Cable Ch. 15, in California City, Boron and Mojave on Ch. 19, and in Rosamond on Ch. 180.

Do the Math Through the Years