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Get a $15 coupon code just for making a short video review!

Pandia Press is offering a special $15 coupon code for our customers, just for sending in a short (20 to 50 second) video review of any of our products! The coupon code is valid for any of our products, on any order over $20.

How do I make a Video Review?

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  3. Email the video to us at SocialMedia@pandiapress.com with the subject line “Pandia Video Review”

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How to get your coupon code! (1)

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Surviving the Spring Doldrums

Surviving

What exactly is the Spring Doldrums? It’s when you hit that part of the homeschool year when time seems to drag as so much of the school year is behind you and summer is almost in sight. When you look back and worry if you have done enough, or look ahead and wonder how you are going to make it to the finish line. Summer can’t arrive fast enough, TYVM.

So what can be done to survive to make it until summer? How can the doldrums be turned around?

1. Make sure you are taking enough time for yourself. An exhausted mom isn’t a happy mom. Kids need you well and rested, as much as is possible. Remember the things that refresh you, and try to schedule some time for them. Maybe you like to journal, or head to the spa. Coffee out with a friend or even by yourself with a good novel is what you prefer. Take the time to recharge your batteries!

2. Focus on things that work. Take a break from or change things that don’t work. Do you love your History program but are only so-so on your Math curriculum? Spend a little longer on the things you enjoy and that are a pleasure to teach. See if things that aren’t working can be retooled, or refocused to make them more pleasureable. If not, can they be replaced? Maybe just for a short time, or if it works out, for the rest of the school year.  Short term change can rekindle that feeling of looking forward to lesson time, instead of dreading it.

3. Get out and enjoy the beautiful days spring has to offer. Go to a park day with a local homeschool group, get to know some new families. Plan a picnic with family. Don’t fight that urge to get outside while the sun is shining, math will still be there when you get back.

4. Reach out to your community. Is there a homeschool dad you know that rocks at math, but you’re more into the sciences? See if you can mix it up by taking turns teaching a lesson or two. Sometimes all it takes is someone else explaining the Pythagorean theorem for them to finally get it. And sometimes seeing something you love to teach through new eyes helps give you the boost you need to keep going.

5. Remember, they don’t have to learn everything right this very moment. Education is a marathon not a sprint. If you go a little slower during the spring, it’s okay. If you don’t stick 100% to the plan, that’s okay too. You can either move faster on those days when everyone is receptive to it, or you can just decide it’s okay not to finish as much as you planned. Sometimes it’s better to enjoy our families and family time than it is to get that Language Arts lesson done.

How do you fight the doldrums? Do you have a special formula for putting the wind back in your sails? Share with us in the comments!

 

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And don’t forget, our March Madness sale is still going on!

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Happy Darwin Day!

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In honor of Charles Darwin’s birthday, we here at Pandia Press are teaming up with SEA Homeschoolers to give you the gift!

From REAL Science Odyssey Biology 2, here is the Famous Scientist Series lesson on Charles Darwin!

Have a great Darwin Day!

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A Real World Application of the Scientific Method

A Real World Application of the Scientific Method:
How the Scientific Theory of Evolution Was Developed, and How and Why It Continues to Evolve
(As All Good Scientific Theories Should)

A Real World Application

Guest Post by Blair Lee, Author R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Biology 2 and Chemistry 1

For all the controversy surrounding evolution, you would be justified in thinking the theory of evolution stands on shaky ground as far as the scientific method goes. In fact it was through standard, rigorous applications of the scientific method that scientists came to their current understanding of the evolutionary process.

Science investigations begin with one or more questions about phenomena observed in the natural or physical world. The theory of evolution attempts to answer three basic questions: Why are there so many different forms of life, when based on environmental conditions there could be fewer? Why have most species gone extinct with others taking their place in the environment? How did the many different types of organisms come to be?

Before looking at how the scientific method was applied to the Theory of Evolution, it is important to understand that the Theory of Evolution, was not developed from one hypothesis or one study. Biological evolution is genetic change in a population occurring over several generations. That evolution happens is a fact. It is a fact that populations of organisms evolve. (The science supporting this statement is very solid, and so substantial it would take several lengthy books to share all of it.) The theory of evolution attempts to explain how and why evolution has happened in the past and continues to happen today. The theory of evolution has many different parts, each one attempting to give more information about how and why organisms evolve. Applying the scientific method to specific limited aspects that look at how and why evolution occurs, has resulted in a well-substantiated, multi-varied, and complex scientific theory.

Every well-done experiment conducted in the field of biology uses and supports the Theory of Evolution. This is because at its most basic, the theory of evolution is the foundational tenet of biology. Countless well-done experiments have been conducted that have improved our understanding of evolution. Because of this I am going to limit down the examples I use for this article. I would like to show you how the scientific method has been applied to develop this theory and how the understanding of the Theory of Evolution has evolved through continued investigations using the scientific method. Every well-done experiment in science uses the scientific method. Science is not just a collection of facts. It should not be taught that way, and it cannot be adequately learned that way. Science is a method. To really understand science, it is essential to understand the method used by scientists to develop scientific theories and scientific models. Understanding this method is essential to understanding how scientists develop both of these and why these theories and models can and should evolve through continued experiment.

It Starts with a Question

Observations are not just made during an experiment. Before scientists develop a hypothesis they make observations about something in the natural or physical world. It is from these initial observations that scientists come up with what they are going to study in the first place. After initially wondering why something is happening, scientists continue observing the phenomenon until they think they have a possible answer. This is where the process of developing an hypothesis begins.

A Possible Answer to the Why and How: The Hypothesis

  • Jean Baptiste Lamarck hypothesized that traits organisms acquire in their lifetime can be inherited by their offspring. For example, the offspring of a long-distance runner could inherit his parent’s ability to run long distances. We now know that Lamarck’s proposed mechanism for evolution was incorrect. He was correct, however, in hypothesizing that organisms inherit traits from their parents, and that inheriting these traits can result in the traits becoming more common in populations of organisms. In other words, he was correct that populations of organisms evolve.
  • Charles Darwin agreed with Lamarck that organisms evolve. Darwin hypothesized a different mechanism for evolution, called natural selection. Natural selection is the process where organisms have a better or a worse chance of survival because of their traits. According to Darwin, over generations organisms with beneficial traits live longer and have more offspring. Therefore they are more likely to pass their traits on to their offspring than those organisms with harmful traits. This results in the natural selection of beneficial traits, which therefore become more common within a population than harmful traits. Darwin’s mechanism for evolution was only part of the story. Scientists now understand that there are other mechanisms for evolution in addition to natural selection.
  • Gregor Mendel hypothesized a mechanism for how traits were inherited. Mendel proposed that organisms have a pair of factors inherited in discrete, unchanging units, now called genes, that control the appearance of a given trait, and that organisms inherit these traits from their parents. Mendel was correct when he proposed that discrete units control traits and are inherited from an organism’s parents. We now know, however, that Mendel was only partially correct when he proposed that genes are unchanging units. Sometimes genes do mutate and change.

To Be Meaningful in Science the Hypothesis Must Be Testable: The Procedure

Once a hypothesis has been proposed, the scientist needs to put together a plan, a procedure, for how they are going to rigorously test their hypothesis. It is important that the procedure be very specific to the hypothesis. A good procedure is detailed and complete enough that another scientist can duplicate the experiment exactly. It is essential that the experiment be well-controlled and that the procedure focuses narrowly on the specific observations the hypothesis is based on.

The procedures scientists use today are much more sophisticated than those used by Lamarck, Darwin, and Mendel. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the work of these three men has been repeated enough that there is no need to continue to repeat the experiments. The second is that the tools used today are more advanced. Modern tools enable scientists to look at organism’s cells, cell structure, and genetic makeup.

Testing the Hypothesis: Conducting the Experiment and Making Observations

Once a procedure is decided upon it is time to conduct the experiment. If the observations confirm the hypothesis the researcher must do two things. First they must re-examine the procedure to make sure there isn’t another possible answer for what they are observing. After that the scientist needs to repeat their experiment many times. Mendel, for example, used thousands of pea plants for his experiment, which he repeated many times over several years.

If the observations are not what the scientist expects they need to look at their procedure to see if the problem is with it or if all or part of their hypothesis needs to be rejected. Lamarck’s hypothesized mechanism for evolution was discarded based on casual observations. Sometimes, though, the answer to what is being observed isn’t as easy to figure out. Darwin’s hypothesis that natural selection is the mechanism for evolution is a good example. Darwin was correct that populations can evolve through natural selection, but there are other mechanisms of evolution. It was observable that populations sometimes evolve in ways that are harmful.

“Mutation, migration, and genetic drift may cause populations to evolve in ways that are actually harmful overall or make them less suitable for their environments. For example, the Afrikaner population of South Africa has an unusually high frequency of the gene responsible for Huntington’s disease because the gene version drifted to high frequency as the population grew from a small starting population. Finally, the whole idea of ‘progress’ doesn’t make sense when it comes to evolution.”
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/misconceptions_faq.php#b1

That means Darwin’s hypothesis would sometimes be invalid and sometimes be confirmed. When this happens, the researcher must determine if the hypothesis is too big and possibly needs to be narrowed down. For example, Darwin’s hypothesis could be corrected to say “natural selection is a mechanism for evolution”.

Analysis: The Data and Results

A meticulous analysis of the data and results is critical. This is what the conclusion is based on. Once a scientist concludes that his data and research gives him specific answers about a process, he shares his research including the data and results. Other scientists pore over the data analysis looking for holes and missteps. It has been through the meticulous analysis of the data and results from vast numbers of experiments conducted by many different researchers that scientists have come to understand that evolution occurs, and they have come to some conclusions about how and why it occurs.

A More Complete Understanding: The Conclusion

If you think of a theory as a puzzle, the conclusion from each experiment is a piece of the puzzle. When the conclusion is that the hypothesis is incorrect, then the puzzle piece doesn’t fit, and doesn’t give information about that theory. It does, however, give information about what isn’t happening, which is important information.

A conclusion that validates the hypothesis gives information about the theory, but it isn’t the entire completed puzzle. Instead it leads to a more complete understanding of the pieces that make up the theory. Once the conclusion has been accepted as a sound explanation through numerous experiments conducted by numerous scientists, more and new experiments (all using the scientific method) can be built from that piece. Just like a puzzle piece, the experiment gives information about how to build a complete picture from the pieces already in place.

Lamarck, Darwin, and Mendel all contributed to our understanding of the Theory of Evolution. Each of them observed something in nature, hypothesized a possible mechanism explaining what they observed, tested hypotheses, meticulously analyzed data, and came to conclusions based on experiments. Through years of applying the scientific method by these scientists and others, it was shown that part of each of their hypothesis was valid, and part was incorrect or incomplete. That is how science works, through stops and starts, failed experiments and successful ones. That is how researchers arrived at today’s Theory of Evolution. This is a theory that will continue to grow and evolve as more experiments, all using the scientific method, are conducted. These experiments will build on those areas where an understanding of the process is solid, and attempt to find answers for those areas where science, as of yet, does not have an answer.

Blair Lee M.S. is the homeschooling mother of a 16-year-old. This year she co-founded the group Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschoolers blog and SEA Homeschoolers on Facebook. Blair writes for the Real Science Odyssey Series, RSO as well as for blogs and magazines. She speaks about eclectic, academic homeschooling and homeschooling science at homeschool conventions.

You can follow her at blairleeblog, Twitter, Facebook, and Katch. Blair loves to read, cook, laugh, and hang out with friends.

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Keeping your Ebooks Organized

Keeping your

If you are like most homeschool moms, you have a collection of ebooks and PDF files on your home computer and saved on various cloud services. One thing that you can do to save time, energy and money is to have them in an organized system that is readily accessible when you need them.

For our purposes, I am going to split PDFs and Ebooks into two main groups, those that need pages printed and those that don’t. Those that need to be printed usually fall into the worksheet type files like REAL Science Odyssey, where specific pages need printing for your child to complete. Those that don’t are usually files that only need to be accessed to read, such as REAL Science Odyssey Biology 2, Teacher Guide.

The first thing that needs to be done is to gather all your files in one place. If you are already a good folder maker, you might have them saved into a system on your personal computer. This will make it easier to transfer them to a cloud based system. There are several to choose from, including Dropbox and Box. If you already have files saved to one or more cloud based services, you may want to look into MultiCloud, which makes it easy to move files between cloud services. After you have set up a place to store them, it’s just a matter of sorting them into useable categories. I keep my read only files in separate folders from my printable files, just to make it easier to find them when I need them.  Once you have your files backed up into an organized cloud service, you will have the ability to access your files wherever you may be, via tablet or laptop.

Using a Kindle or the Kindle App (which is available for most tablets) to read PDF and Ebook files is the easiest way to go. You can send Dropbox or Box files to your Kindle or even to your children’s Kindles. You can also send whole files or specific pages to any wireless printer.

How do you organize your efiles? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Pandia Press on Periscope!

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Pandia Press has ventured into the world of Periscope! What is Periscope, you may ask? Well, it is a fantastic new app that allows users to live stream information and entertainment to their followers smartphones or tablets.

It’s easy to use, just download the app from the iTunes or Google Play store to your iPhone, Android or tablet. Periscope connects to your Twitter account, and provides you with a notification when one of the people you follow goes live! You can view and interact with the Scoper live, via a chat window and hearts. Hearts are similar to likes, except you aren’t limited to one per scope. You can give as many hearts as you like! Keep in mind, when viewing live, chat is unmoderated and may contain adult language. If you miss the live broadcast, our scopes are available for 24 hours via the Periscope app or is forever archived at Katch.Me/PandiaPress. For more information about how it all works, visit this blog post from Homeschool Realm, Have You Heard About Periscope?

So what we want to know is, what do you want us to Scope about? Do you have a question for us about our products? Let us know in the comments! We want to create useful and informative Scopes for you!

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The Scientific Method: Defined, Applied, Understood, Learned

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Guest Post by Blair Lee, Author R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Biology 2 and Chemistry 1

How did you learn the scientific method? If I were to ask you what the scientific method was, would you rattle off a series of terms? Would you say to me hypothesis, procedure, observations, data and calculations, results, and conclusion? What does this series of terms mean? Why is the scientific method so significant it is a component of all well done scientific studies? More importantly for you as a homeschooling parent, how can you make sure your children are learning the scientific method in a meaningful way?

 

The Scientific Method: Defined

The scientific method is an investigative method based on experimentation, observation, and deductive reasoning. The purpose of this investigation is to explain a phenomena occurring in the natural and physical world.

 

The hypothesis is an educated guess. The word “educated” is a key word in this sentence. When a scientist makes a hypothesis they are not just guessing in the way you might guess the outcome of a coin toss. They are basing their guess on what they know about the area of science the experiment focuses on. This is one reason it is critical to understand the foundational fundamentals of a scientific discipline. It is also why it is necessary that science courses begin at the beginning and very clearly build from there with a thoughtful increase in the level of skill required to conduct the experiments.

 

The procedure is a list of the steps needed to conduct the experiment. The procedure should not include techniques that are too advanced or complicated for students to understand. The procedure in a science experiment is very important.

 

“A scientific theory is a widely accepted explanation of something observed in science. Theories are based on experimentation, observation, and reasoning—the scientific method. Before something can be called a scientific theory, it must be tested many times by different researchers, who get results that are consistent with that theory.” R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Biology 2

 

If the procedure is not well written or not conducted in the same way every time, an experimenter can get “results that are not consistent with that theory”. Because scientific theories depend on many different researchers getting results that are consistent with that theory, it is essential the procedure be written and understood clearly.

 

Once the experiment is set up, it is time to conduct the experiment. While they are conducting the experiment, students will make observations. Observations are the collected data from the experiment. Observations made during an experiment lead to a better understanding of how the natural and physical world works.

 

It is necessary that scientists and science students be able to report their observations in a meaningful and cohesive manner. The data and results component of the scientific method is where the data, calculations, and observations are written, calculated, and explained.

 

When deductive reasoning is applied to the data and results, a conclusion is determined that supports the observations. If many different scientists conduct an experiment and get the same conclusion based on their analysis of the data and results, the observations made during the experiment can change or support scientific theories and scientific models.

 

“A scientific model is a simplified representation of a real system. Scientific models are based on the scientific method. Scientific models make it possible to study large, complex scientific principles and systems.” R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Astronomy and Earth Science 2

 

The Scientific Method: Applied

When students determine their hypothesis they are applying their understanding of basic science principles with respect to the experiment.

 

When a student conducts an experiment the procedure is applied in two different ways. As a student reads through the procedure they are reading a set of instructions explaining techniques used in science. Since all scientific theories and models are based on experimentation, a basic understanding of the techniques used in science is a far-reaching component of the foundational fundamentals of science. The second way the procedure is applied is by conducting the experiment. Understandings in science come about through experimentation. It takes countless hours of laboratory work to develop a scientific theory or model. Learning science without conducting experiments is like learning to sew without actually sewing. Science is an active endeavor, not a static one.

 

The observations and data are applied by using them to determine the results of the experiment. Making observations, collecting data, and using these to determine results are a meaningful application of applied math as it relates to science. The ability to use math applications is an essential skill in science in the same way punctuation and spelling are essential skills for the craft of writing.

 

The final step when applying the scientific method to an experiment is to use deductive reasoning to determine a conclusion for the experiment. This synthesis of information and application of the foundational fundamentals that should be in the conclusion are more than just an application of the scientific method. It is also a natural and intuitive lesson in logical thinking.

 

The Scientific Method: Understood

Most of the time students and educators do not pay enough attention to the hypothesis other than to write it or make sure it is written. A student’s hypothesis should be evaluated critically, but not with criticism, to look for how well the student understands the science the experiment is based on. A good strategy to use when your student writes a hypothesis is to ask them what scientific principles or knowledge they are basing their hypothesis on. When this is done students will come to understand how scientists arrive at their hypotheses based on educated guesses.

 

When students read and then work through the steps of an experiment they come to understand some of the basic procedures real scientists use when conducting experiments. They also come to understand at an intuitive level that scientific theories and models are determined and developed through the application and manipulation of science practices.

 

Observations made while experiments are conducted are the basis for the data and results that are used to develop scientific theories and models. Students spend a lot of their school time learning math. Using data and observations to determine results helps students understand how math is used to help explain how the natural and physical world works. When experiments are well paired with theory, observations made while conducting experiments greatly increase and add to a student’s understanding of the theory taught. Making observations, collecting data, and then using these to determine results also leads to a better understanding of the work scientists do and the type of deductive reasoning and analysis used for their conclusions that lead to the development of scientific theories and models.

 

Scientific theories and models are a synthesis of conclusions from many different scientific experiments. It is through conducting experiments in academic situations that students come to understand how conclusions determined using the scientific method can explain how the natural and physical world works.

 

The Scientific Method: Learned

When science is learned in a manner where theory is carefully paired with experiments chosen so they relate closely to that theory, the scientific method is learned through reasoning and observation. It is also learned intuitively. Instead of relying on a rote memorization of terms and their definitions to explain the scientific method, students understand in a meaningful way how the scientific method works, how scientific theories, models, and principles are developed. Most importantly they learn how these theories, models, and principles are used to explain how the natural and physical world works

Look for part two of this post next month: “A Real World Application of the Scientific Method: How the Scientific Theory of Evolution Was Developed, and How and Why It Continues to Evolve (as All Good Scientific Theories Do).”

Blair Lee M.S. is the homeschooling mother of a 15-year-old. This year she co-founded the group Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschoolers blog and SEA Homeschoolers on Facebook. Blair writes for the Real Science Odyssey Series, RSO as well as for blogs and magazines. She speaks about eclectic, academic homeschooling and homeschooling science at homeschool conventions.

You can follow her at blairleeblog, Twitter, Facebook, and Katch. Blair loves to read, cook, laugh, and hang out with friends.

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Online Resources for History Odyssey and R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey

Online Resources

 

There are many resources available online to help you when using History Odyssey or R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey. There is a wealth of information about how to enrich and expand lessons to allow children to explore areas more in depth, as well as places to go to talk to other parents who use our curriculum.

One of the first places to visit is the Pandia Press Facebook page. Here you can find links to interesting science and history news, updates on products and sales, as well as interact with Pandia Press.

Next you can check out our Pinterest boards, where we share ideas and information on how to teach and expand on concepts introduced in our history and science curriculum.

Also available are Facebook pages not run by Pandia Press, to discuss curriculum and more! While these pages are not run by Pandia Press, they can provide a wealth of information and support.

Check out some of the great resources available to you, and let us know, what are your favorite online resources?

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When you’re having a rough day…

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There is a secret I want to share with you. Come close, and I’ll whisper, are you ready? No one has those picture perfect days you see on the homeschool blogs every day. No one! Everyone has bad days, or even rough weeks. And you know what, that’s okay!

Now often people will try to offer helpful advice. You public school friends will say, “Maybe it’s time to put them in school?”  As if this is the one answer that you never considered, and will make all your problems go away with a *poof* But we all know that this is not the solution to a bad day, or even a bad week. We all have our reasons for homeschooling and those don’t change because the road has gotten rough.

So how do you pull yourself out of a rough time?

One great way is to get out of the house, with or without your children. Go on a field trip, visit a zoo or museum. Sometimes getting kids out of the routine of daily schooling can turn around a rough time. Go to coffee with a friend, or get a pedicure. Mom’s need their batteries recharged, and taking time to care for yourself is an important step.

Get some support! Visit a homeschool co-op or park day. Talk to other homeschooling parents, and remember they have bad days too. Listen to a podcast, or join a message board.

Mix it up! A change in the daily routine can pull everyone out of a bad mood. Add in board games or some craft projects.

Here are some great resources to help with getting out of a slump:

Getting Out of a Homeschool Slump (Podcast by the Savvy Homeschool Moms)

Extreme Home(School) Makeover

Surviving the Mid-Year Slump

14 Ways to Turn Your Day Around

How about you, what do you do to turn around a bad day? Share with us in the comments!

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How to Use Our Try Before You Buy

Family reading book together

 

One of the things that sets Pandia Press apart from other science curriculum is our wonderful Try Before You Buy program. We offer this for all our current science and history books.

To get started, visit the Try Before You Buy (TBYB) page on our website and choose the program that you are interested in. By following the link below each book cover, you will be directed to a PDF file, which can be printed or saved to your computer. All of our TBYB samples include a full table of contents, supply list and book list plus several lessons from that book. This gives you the opportunity to see if that particular book is the right one for your family.

For example, our TBYB for Middle Ages Level One contains a full table of contents, a list of required resources, directions on how to use the guide, a printable suggested weekly schedule, and 10 full lessons with maps. This gives families plenty of opportunity to try the curriculum out in their own homes. If you find that the curriculum meets your families needs, you can come back and purchase it. If not, you can try another level or subject just like that!

We are proud of the curriculum that we provide, and we want to make sure that it will work for your family. We encourage you to give us a try, there is no obligation, and it’s free. What are you waiting for? Go download something, and see for yourself!

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