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Newton County STEM Institute student trio set to compete at international fair in May
International Fair

Newton County Schools made an announcement Tuesday of three students from the Newton College and Career Academy (NCCA) STEM Institute who are gearing up for an “adventure of a lifetime.” 

Lynda Coots, Tania Menchaca and Miguel Ramos are set to compete at the 2024 Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair. Their project was selected over 100-plus entries to compete at the fair in Los Angeles, California that will be held in May. 

In a YouTube video from the Newton County School System (NCSS), Coots shared that the project was to use video games in a “stress-relieving sense” for people who play video games and those who do not. 

“What we wanted to do was basically take people — whether they play video games or not — and give them a time to play a ‘cozy’ video game genre, which its main goal is to stray away from the violence and the shots and all that,” Coots said. “And basically to make something where you can relax instead of focusing on the gore and the violence of the game.” 

They collected data through pre and post surveys as well as monitoring heartbeats per minute and oxygen levels. 

Pamela Consuegra – a biotechnology instructor at NCCA – commended the group on the work. 

Consuegra said that they were the first group to get a plan in place, knew what they wanted to do, start and finish experimentation and gather data. 

“And while the complexity of the topic is not mind-blowing, what is amazing is how sound the science is. They have very clear variables, they have no — I guess you would call it interfering data. Their science is clear and it’s a clear passion project,” Consuegra said. “All three of them are video gamers. It is their passion.”

The first place region science fair winners will be right there with students from countries such as Ukraine, China, Japan and South Africa. 

Laura Lambert, NCCA STEM Institute’s program director, stressed the magnitude of Coots, Menchaca and Ramos being selected. 

“I think the importance and the significance of being selected cannot be understated. There are only a handful of teams from Georgia that get selected. And they are competing truly on [the] international stage,” Lambert said. “There’s a great ceremony that happens at the beginning of ISEF, which is kind of the showing of all the flags and all the countries that are represented at ISEF.

“Just to have our students get the opportunity to network with those students and really become the global scholars that we expect out of Newton County students is an invaluable experience.”