For many viewers of “King of the Nerds” season 3, Kaitlin Spak became the ultimate underdog. She was the last remaining contestant not in the Secret Six, and she had already survived two different Nerd-Offs before making it to the final four. The trivia challenge ended up being her undoing, but given the circumstances as a major target all season, she has to be pleased with the results as a whole.
This week, we spoke with the NASA engineer via email about her placement on the show, whether or not the question about the Sun’s composition was a particularly frustrating one, and also if she wanted more space-themed challenges.
CarterMatt – Given that you were a target so early in the game, does it feel great to make it all the way to the final four?
Kaitlin Spak – Making it to the final four was exactly where I expected to end up. I don’t have a lot of nerdy knowledge. I just have knowledge, and historically, surviving nerd-offs means you probably won’t be sitting on the throne at the end! By week three I figured I was top four, but not the winner. Tried my best though!
Were you ever frustrated about being sent in to those two early Nerd-Offs, or did you view it more as a sign of respect?
No, I was never frustrated about going into nerd-offs. I might have been frustrated if my own team was voting me in, but frankly, I would have been offended if the other team didn’t pick me! As Colby said, no one tries to assassinate the Vice President. However, nerd-offs were somewhat tiring after working on team challenges all day, so I got tired of having to do the extra work and then really focused on keeping my team working together to win and get us to the end. Worked pretty well.
One of the most impressive strategic things you did was stay close to Colby, while not really letting everyone else know it all the time. How did you pull that off?
Thanks for thinking that staying close to Colby was strategy, but our camaraderie was based more on kindred spirits who didn’t have much in common with most of the others. It was very obvious that most of the contestants wanted Colby gone, which has to be hard to face day after day. Actions speak louder than words, and I tried to show my support for Colby through my actions.
Were you as frustrated about the question about the sun as we were? Oxygen makes up such a tiny percentage of it that it felt like the hardest question during that final four challenge by a mile to answer.
No, I hadn’t really considered the difficulty of the question about the sun until you brought it up just now. I guess it is pretty difficult when you consider oxygen is less than 1% of the sun’s composition. The frustrating part was that Jonathan’s logic in guessing correctly was wrong; he guessed oxygen because it is necessary for combustion, but the sun isn’t “burning” in a combustion sense. Lucky guess! I would have loved to have that challenge in a format without the buzzers- there were a lot of questions that all four of us knew, and not getting points for answers that you know is excruciatingly painful.
As a NASA engineer, do you wish that you got to do some more space-themed stuff? What challenges stood out to you this season as favorites?
I’m a mechanical engineer, so I know a lot more about getting things TO space than space itself- space is too awesome to try and cram into a reality TV show challenge. My favorite challenges were the boat-building challenge (because I never would have tried to make a boat out of cardboard, but now I know I can), the anthem challenge (because in my line of work, you very rarely get your own music producer and choreographer to work with, and I really enjoy singing and dancing), and the Rube Goldberg challenge (because as an engineer you are trying to simplify and streamline, not complicate, so I would never get to try this on my own!). Oh, and nerdy game night was the best game night EVER, and the forensic challenge was really fun too… My favorite part of being in Nerdvana was by far the challenges- if we could just always be in challenge mode, I would have been very happy!
Thanks to Kaitlin for her time, and head over here if you missed our chat with the champ Jonathan earlier in the day. Also, sign up to score some other TV updates on everything we cover via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: TBS.)