OK, judging from Twitter you are all getting worried about what you’ve let yourselves in for and fretting about getting evicted. I’m writing this to reassure you, although, I’m afraid most of you are going to get evicted and there’s not much I can do about it. Sorry!
The moderators and I do hate the evictions. It’s excruciating having to say goodbye to people who’ve put in lots of effort and been great contestants. But evictions are a big part of what makes the event exciting for young people, they create a buzz and a tension. And I guess we should all remember that it’s the taking part that counts (tell that to my Dad on pub quiz night…).
However, these are my top tips on surviving evictions, based on running events in this format over 6 years. I think the things that make students vote for someone are:-
1. How worthwhile they think your work is – in IAS terms curing cancer scores high. As does stopping people starving in the developing world. It’s not only heroic lifesaving scientists who have won the event in the past though – but it is worth thinking about how you explain to teenagers what benefit your work brings to the world.
2. How much they’ve interacted with you and how they felt about that interaction. Common comments when we ask students why they voted for a particular scientist or councillor are ‘They answered our questions’, ‘They weren’t patronising’, ‘They listened to us’, ‘They seemed nice’.
3. Smiley photo. In my exp, kids don’t vote for the best looking person, but they do vote for the one who looks genuinely friendly. We actually did a test of this once with I’m a Councillor by getting friends to rate the attractiveness and smileyness of councillor photos then comparing to who won. It was only a small sample but attractiveness did not correlate with winning, smiley photos did. But of course we can’t rule out the fact that perhaps a person with a smiley photo does much better at number 2.
There is a discussion of what made students vote for particular scientists in the I’m a Scientist evaluation report, in section 1.1.7, if you are that keen!