Monday, December 12, 2011

Swap Knots




This is one of our favorite team-building games from our workshop.
This is a fun variation of the old classic Human Knot. Group up in teams of 8, 10, or 12. Give a bandanna or three-foot piece of rope to ½ the group (give a team of 12 six ropes, team of 10 five ropes and a team of 8 four ropes).







Lay the ropes out in an asterisk-like shape. Players grab one end of the rope. Allow each group 6 to 8 minutes to tangle the ropes as much as possible. Two rules: players may not let go of the ropes, and may not tighten the knot by pulling on it.


After completing their knot, they place the tangled ropes on the floor so the ends of the ropes can are visible.


Each team moves to another team’s knot, and players grab the end of one of the ropes and the try to untangle the ropes until they are standing in pairs back in the asterisk shape. 


When debriefing ask: How are we connected to each other? How can we solve problems and remain connected to each other?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bumpity Bump Bump


Here is one of our Name Games from our popular team-building workshops.

Bumpity Bump Bump

Circle Up. Choose an IT.  IT goes up yo someone in the circle and says, “left,” “right,” or “yours.”  That player must say the name of the player to the right, left or their own respectively before IT says, “bumpity bump bump.”  If the player in the circle fails to say the correct name in time, they are the new IT.



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Best Practices for an Afterschool Program Indoor Environment



The indoor space needs to be clean and colorful, interesting and inviting, and should reflect the children, their varying ages, cultures, and special interests. It needs to be broken up into different areas, providing a variety of activity choices. It needs to be labeled, clearly communicating what privileges and expectations children have in each area. It needs to be homelike and contain at least one very homelike area.

Planning and preparing the environment can be an activity in which the children can and should be involved. Children can generate some discussion and design suggested floor plans. This will give them the feeling of ownership, while teaching them citizenship and a sense of community. Involving all of the children will help the environment to reflect the group of kids and what they like.

Construction Zone

See our incredible staff setup the environment 
in only 2 minutes and 27 seconds.


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The activity space should be divided up different areas. One area can contain some Legos, Lincoln logs, craft sticks, wood blocks, construction straws or dominoes. This area should display a sign that says something like "Construction Zone" for the kids, and in smaller letters "Manipulatives/Fine Motor Area" for the educators' and parents' understanding. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Science of Sunshine - UV Detection Beads

As we were getting ready to begin, Madison snuck in some English and SPANISH language arts when she read them a poem that she wrote about our topic of the day!

SUN
Hot, Bright
Burning, Heating, Energizing
Sol, Fire, Space Light 
Shining, Twinkling, Sparkling
Estrella, Bright
STAR

To sneak in some MORE literacy, she read Bear Shadow, by Frank Asch - 
a story about a bear who was outside all day trying to do everything he could think of to get rid of his shadow because it scared away the fish when we went fishing.

Sneakin' in Some Literacy!




Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Habit #7 is Communication

Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something.—Plato

Dynamic and highly-effective afterschool programs are places for generative discussion and intensive action. Language functions as a tool for bonding, innovating, coordinating, and cooperating. People can speak from their hearts and connect with each other in the spirit of dialog—from the Greek dia + logos, moving through.

Dialog is an essential element of organizational learning and highly-effective leaderhip. Peter Senge identifies three conditions that are necessary for dialog to occur: all participants must suspend their assumptions; all participants must regard one another as colleagues; and there must be a facilitator who holds the context of the dialog.



When people talk and listen to each other, they create an alignment of purpose that produces incredible ability to invent new possibilities in conversation and bring about these possibilities in reality. There must be sufficient meeting time scheduled into people’s professional calendars to step back from the day-to-day operations and reflect on what is happening in the program. It is important for highly-effective leaders to understand that ideas can be developed best through dialog and discussion. Through dialog, people can predict and solve problems, replace obsolete systems, and create new systems.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Habit #6 is Community Building



Community Building is a habit that is a paradigm shift away from “activity-led” programming, which creates a curriculum centered on the activities – activities to keep kids busy and out of our hair. Activities without attention to purpose or ethical dimension of community building miss the opportunity to facilitate the child’s social development.

We believe in an afterschool program all the activities should have a purpose. 



In autumn when the leaves fall we see leaf crafts o-plenty! Afterschool program leaders have children making leaf prints, leaf collages, leaf mobiles, leaf placemats, and preserving leafs between sheets of waxed paper. Now… there is nothing wrong with leaf crafts in and of themselves. But often these projects are all about making the final product – a piece of refrigerator art for parents to attach to their refrigerators with magnetic fruit. These projects miss an opportunity to teach leadership, sharing, caring, altruism, and empathy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

ABC's of Powerful Programming Practices




“Learning and development are interrelated from the child’s very first day of life.” 
– Lev Vygotsky

The ABC's of 
Powerful Programming Practices


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Habit #5 is Influence




Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.—Dwight D. Eisenhower

Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.—Tom Landry

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.—Ken Blanchard



Leadership is about influence, not power. Highly-effective leaders know how to tap into the hearts and minds of their followers. If you stand and look over the shoulders of those you supervise, you’ll never get people who care about their jobs. We do not preach the old “carrot and stick” approach to influence. Rather, we will teach you how to get intrinsic, true, inner motivation.

 According to the old-school organizational cliché, what gets rewarded gets done. So, many organizations offer rewards such as profit-sharing, bonuses, employee of the month programs, prizes, and special parking spaces to influence employees. These are classic examples of extrinsic or token rewards. Extrinsic rewards can significantly lower intrinsic motivation and can create reliance upon the rewards. In situations that are already intrinsically rewarding, the addition of extrinsic rewards may reduce the effectiveness of the intrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards are effective in teaching a rat to run a maze, but are not effective in influencing staff performance.

Rewards fail to make deep lasting changes because they are aimed at affecting only what people do and not at what they think and feel. If employers want to do nothing more than induce compliance in employees, then rewards may be a valid practice. If employers want staff members to be self-disciplined, self-motivated workers, then rewards are worse than useless; they are counterproductive.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Science of Oobleck

Every week, Madison (my 11-year old daughter) and I teach a 1.5-hour afterschool science club for K-2nd graders.  Each week she helps plan the lesson and then write the blog about what we did. 

We have provided links to the books we used.  We learned a lot of the science experiments and activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire).  We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.

Science of Oobleck



Science Standards Addressed:
  • Identify and compare properties of pure substances and mixtures. 
  • Know that changes to matter may be chemical or physical and when two or more substances are combined, a new substance may be formed with properties that are different from those of the original substances.
  • Describe properties of materials in different states – solid, liquid, and gas. 
Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

As the children arrived we played the songs Green River, by Credence Clearwater Revival; and Stuck on You, by Elvis Presley. Green, sticky hints about the theme of the day!

Next we had a green snack that once again was a hint of the science to follow.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Systems Thinking and Cutting Quality

In tough economic times, non profits struggle to survive. Leaders often consider cutting quality during these times. But this ignores the systems involved. In the long term cutting quality hurts non-profit organizations. We use the classic illusion of the Magic Arcs as a metaphor to describe the counterproductive reasoning in which afterschool leaders decide to cut quality out as a response to falling profits or budget surpluses. This is an excerpt from our workshop - Learning to Lead: Leading to Learn based on our book available Summer 2011.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Swimmy Noodle Games

We don't just use our noodles in the pool, we use them for team-building games!



99 Red Balloons Each person in the team blows up and ties off a balloon (red if you plan on playing the song).  On “GO” the challenge is for the team to work together to keep all of the balloons up in the air using only their noodles.  You can add in a balloon or more as an added challenge.




Monday, July 4, 2011

8 Habits of Highly Effective Afterschool Leaders

Habit #4 has 4 Parts: Knowledge, Information, Power, and Control; "the way things are done around here."


Habit #4 is all about organizational cultures – it is all about “how things are done around here.” Our organization was built on a leadership philosophy that many refer to as a “learning organization.” 
This is our organizational chart. The foundation - the BOSS - are the values, mission, and vision. The people normally depicted at the top of the human pyramid are considered support staff for the "power staff"  - those who interact with the children, families, and schools. A learning organization is a non-hierarchical organization where all stakeholders are involved in deciding how the organization will conduct itself. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Science of Electricity


Every week, Madison (my 10-year old daughter) and I teach a 1.5-hour afterschool science club for K-2nd graders.  Each week she helps plan the lesson and then write the blog about what we did. 

We have provided links to the books we used to sneak in some literacy.  We learned most of the science experiments and activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire).  We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos.  We have also included links to our YouTube videos. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.


Science Standards Addressed:
  • ·      Describe how energy produces changes.
  • ·      Understands that light is a form of energy.
  • ·      Know that energy and its changes can be measured.
  • ·      Know that some forms of energy can do useful things (light up a light bulb).
  • ·      Know how electricity flows through a simple circuit.
  • ·      Know that materials are made of atoms and molecule (helium atom models)

Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

As the children arrived we played the songs Electric Avenue, by Eddie Grant; Shock the Monkey, by Peter Gabriel; and the Electric Slide by the Hit Crew.

We had a very electric snack – we played with our food – against our Moms’ instructions – and made apple batteries and orange powered clocks!



Sunday, June 12, 2011

Science of Density


Lesson 20
Science of Density


Science Standards Addressed:
  • Describe the characteristics of the 3 states of matter (solid, liquid, gas).
  • Describe how matter is ordered in solids, liquids, and gases and the changes that occur to them when heated.


Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

As the children arrived, to go along with our density is like kids packed into a school bus analogy, we played the songs Don’t Stand So Close to Me, by the Police; The Wheels on the Bus, and My Name is Cheech the School Bus Driver, by Cheech Marin.

This is what we put out in the snack area. It was pretty much one of everything from the produce section of the grocery store plus diet and regular sodas. We pretended this was a normal snack. We let the kids be confused for a bit and then brought out a normal snack. 

All of this stuff was for some fun experiments on density (below).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ashcraft Afterschool Training Montage

Check out our training montage video on YouTube. 


Chelsea Ashcraft and Mike Ashcraft custom design keynotes, workshops, full-day, and multi-day adult learning experiences for entry-level thru administrative-level staff. Our learning events are unique – living examples of “brain-compatible” teaching - a mix of research-based theory and real life practical applications. We know that when learners have fun, the learning sticks in their brains, so we intentionally and masterfully incorporate novelty, relevancy, movement, activities, humor, and music into every event!

Friday, June 3, 2011

8 Habits of Highly Effective Afterschool Leaders

Habit #3 has 3 Parts: The Great Afterschool Programming Triad – the ERE

See the YouTube video snippet of our 8 Habits workshop!


When intentionally designing an afterschool program, three basic programming tools to consider are the Environment, Relationships and Experiences (ERE). We have an influence on children through the Environment we create, the Relationships we develop, and the Experiences we provide for them. This theory reflects current brain research and afterschool quality research.

Environment

When you walk into a gymnasium, you behave differently than when you walk into a library. When you walk into a funeral home, you might behave the same as if you walked into a government building, but you might feel differently. You see, the environment says things to people about the way they should behave and feel. Similarly, the afterschool environment tells children some important things about the way they should behave and feel, so it is important that leaders provide an environment that encourages desirable behavior. The space should say "Play with me!" in a way that clearly defines how to play with it. The way you arrange your space tells children what types of behavior are expected in that space.


Dramatic Play Area

Highly-effective afterschool leaders initially provide an environment, which meets the basic biological needs of children, taking into consideration safety, nutrition, and water. They then add novelty and stimulation to the environment by creating a variety of areas in which children can be involved in diverse ways: art, construction, fine motor, manipulatives, quiet conversation, food, science, strategy games, and outdoor play. Afterschool leaders can provide novelty and enrich the environment through new colors, posters, child’s art, and music.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Science of Magnetism

Every week, Madison (my 10-year old daughter) and I teach a 1.5-hour afterschool science club for K-2nd graders.  Each week she helps plan the lesson and then write the blog about what we did. 

We have provided links to the books we used to sneak in some literacy.  We learned most of the science experiments and activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire).  We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos.  We have also included links to our YouTube videos. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.

Lesson 18 & 19
Science of Magnetism

Science Standards Addressed: Students can describe the properties of magnets.

Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

5 minutes
As the children arrived we played the songs Stuck on You, by Elvis Presley; and Magnet and Steel, by Walter Egan.

Cow Magnets
We explained that when cows are grazing, they eat EVERYTHING! They eat hay, grass, dirt, staples, little bits of bailing wire, even nails – they call it “tramp iron.” Then we showed them a super strong cow magnet. Link to COW MAGNETS.


We explained that ranchers put these magnets down a cow’s throat, so that any iron that the cows eat gets stuck to the magnet.  If this iron goes through their digestive tract it can get lodged and cause irritation and Hardware Disease, which causes cows to loose their appetite, and not gain weight (meat).  Hardware Disease also reduces milk production in dairy cows. One magnet stays in the cow for it’s whole life. Before eating snack we showed them an iron nail. We asked if THEY would ever eat such a thing?  NO WAY JOSE!
Then… we gave them some iron to eat!


We snacked on some iron-enriched cereal with prunes and bananas, which both contain iron.
 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Habit #2 has 2 Parts: Vision & Values


The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. —Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh



If you want to move people, it has to be toward a vision that’s positive for them, that taps important values, that gets them something they desire, and it has to be presented in a compelling way. That way, they feel inspired to follow. —Martin Luther King Jr.

Vision


“Without a vision the people will perish.” – King Solomon

Vision is about charting the course, steering the ship. You have to know where you want to go before steering the ship. You’ve gotta know how you want things to be before attempting to lead. By definition leaders must know where they are going if they hope to lead. Leaders who don’t know in which direction to go succeed only in leading people down an aimless and meaningless path. Developing a vivid picture of the future is an important part of creating a future that is better than today. Having a clear, motivating image of a desired future provides meaning and context to daily tasks. Focusing on a vision for the future can inspire people to reach higher and overcome challenges. Once created, a vision will help to structure decision making and policy setting in an organization.


Visioning is a common, but effective strategy proven useful in many endeavors. Olympic athletes visualize themselves performing their specific feats, and this visualization is effective in helping them to perform better. Albert Einstein imagined himself traveling through the universe as a “man in a box” on a ray of light. This vision helped him develop the theory of general relativity.


Future-focused thinking is the one attribute that a leader must possess to create and shape an “intentional organization.” An intentional organization is purposeful, created and led with a specific goal in mind. An intentional organization is grounded in specific objectives and it has a plan of action designed to accomplish these objectives. The culture of an intentional organization reflects a deliberate focus on a specific end result. In order for the organization to be purposeful, goal oriented, grounded in specific objectives, and focused on an end result, the leader must be able to see and articulate a vision—to chart a course for the future.


A good vision is ideological, but possible; challenging, but realistic. It is not a wishful fantasy, but an attainable picture of the future. A good vision should be imaginable, desirable, feasible, focused, flexible, and communicable. A good vision depicts an image of the future with some implicit or explicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future. A vision can be a mental picture of the “ideal” organization, community, or youth program. Studies have shown that people are more likely to reach a goal if they can envision it and can imagine the steps to reach it.


Clarity of purpose and direction, and the ability to envision the future are paramount to effective leadership. Whether we call this a vision, a dream, a calling, a goal, or a personal agenda, the message is clear: leaders must know where they’re going if they expect others to willingly join them on the journey. Vision is the magnetic north that provides others with the capacity to chart their course toward the future.



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Habit #1 of our 8 Habits of Highly-Effective Afterschool Leaders

8 Habits of Highly-Effective Afterschool Leaders

YouTube video snippet on our 8 Habits workshop.





Habit #1 is Safety. Because… Safety First!


It is kind of like Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At the bottom of the pyramid are the basic needs – food, water, security, and SAFETY.



These needs must be met first in order to address the more psychological needs of esteem, belonging, and love.

Highly-effective afterschool leaders keep kids and each other safe – physically safe and emotionally safe.

Leaders ensure there are NO safety or health hazards in the area. They protect kids from even potential hazards like caustic art materials, cleaning agents, medications, sharp knives, hot liquids, etc. They check equipment for active play, and make sure it is safe.

Afterschool leaders ensure the program community works together to keep the facilities clean. They make sure there are adequate hand-washing facilities and supplies and that we ALL wash our hands frequently.

Leaders create or maintain systems that are in place to protect the children from harm, when they move from one place to another or use the rest room - systems to keep unauthorized people from taking children from the program.

Afterschool leaders carefully supervise children according to their level of responsibility. They note when children arrive, when they leave, and with whom they leave. They know where the children are and what they are doing at all times. And they increase the level of supervision even more when they are engaged in higher risk activities.



BOOST BREAKFAST CLUB

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National AfterSchool Association: 2011 NAA Convention Invitiation

National AfterSchool Association: 2011 NAA Convention Invitiation: "NAA would like to personally invite you to the 2011 NAA Convention. April 16-18 in Orlando, FL at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Ce..."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Science of Polymers

Every week, Madison (my 10-year old daughter) and I teach a 1.5-hour afterschool science club for K-2nd graders.  Each week she helps plan the lesson and then write the blog about what we did. 

We have provided links to the books we used to sneak in some literacy.  We learned most of the science experiments and activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire).  We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos.  We have also included links to our YouTube videos. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.

Lesson 15  & 16
Science of Polymers


Science Standards Addressed:
  • Describe the characteristics of the three states of matter (solid, liquid, gas).
  • Describe what happens when substances (solid, liquid, gas) are mixed – water gel & instant snow.
  • Know that materials are made of atoms and molecules – polymer science.
  • Describe how heat is made and how it travels. – unburnable balloon.
  • Know that living things have basic needs (food, water, air, sunlight) – radish experiment.


Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

As the children arrived we played the songs Everything Grows, by Raffi; Alligator Hedgehog, by Pete Seeger; and Cool Clear Water, by Marty Robbins.

Next we had a snack that once again was a hint of the science to follow. 


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Science of GLOW!

Every week, Madison (my 10-year old daughter) and I teach a 1.5-hour afterschool science club for K-2nd graders.  Each week she helps plan the lesson and then write the blog about what we did.  Then I add my 5 cents worth and we post the blog.

We have provided links to the books we used to sneak in some literacy.  We learned most of the science experiments and activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire).  We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos.  We have also included links to our YouTube video science lessons. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.

Lesson 13
Science of Glow


Science Standards Addressed:
  • Knows that light is a form of energy, Recognize that energy can be stored in many ways (phosphorescence).
  • Know that changes to matter may be chemical or physical and when two or more substances are combined, a new substance may be formed with properties that are different from those of the original substance.
  • Know that materials are made up of small particles that are too small to see with the naked eye (monomer and polymer science).
  • Know that bacteria and viruses are germs that affect the human body. Describe ways to prevent the spread of germs.


Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

As the children arrived we played the songs When the Lights Go Down in the City, by Journey; and Party Lights, by Claudine Clark.

10 Minutes
Simulated Germs

As the children arrived, we pumped a little glob of Simulated Glow Germs on their hands.  We asked them to rub the “lotion” into their hands making sure to get the backs of their palms and fingernails.  Then we asked them to wash their hands the way they normally do before eating snack.  Then, we put their hands back under a black light.

You could see glowing “germs” all over their hands – especially in between their fingers and in their finger nails.  We taught them how to wash their hands: by scrubbing EVERY surface of their hands for the same amount of time it takes them to sing Happy Birthday to themselves FOUR times!

Then we put their hands under the black light again.  It was much better this time, but there were still some germs that did not get scrubbed away.  After one more round of hand washing, no more Glow Germ showed up, and we mercifully let them eat snack.

5 minutes
Snack

Our snack was an extra cool hint of the science to follow. 

In addition to the healthy stuff, we snacked on GLOWING gummy worms

 (don’t be alarmed, only the forceps glowed – and the light shined THROUGH the worm).


Monday, January 17, 2011

Science of Sound

Every week, Madison (my 10-year old daughter) and I teach a 1.5-hour afterschool science club for K-2nd graders.  Each week she helps plan the lesson and then write the blog about what we did. 

We have provided links to the books we used to sneak in some literacy.  We learned most of the science experiments and activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire).  We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos.  We have also included links to our YouTube videos. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.


Lesson 12
Science of Sound
Science Standards Addressed:
  • Identify human organs and their function (ear).
  • Observe that things move in different ways (vibrations).
  • Observe that sound is made from vibrating objects and describe its pitch and loudness.
  • Knows that sound travels in waves.


Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.

5 minutes
As the children arrived we played the songs Good Vibrations, and Catch a Wave, by the Beach Boys – little hint about the theme of the day.

Next we had a snack that once again was a hint of the science to follow. 
In addition to the healthy stuff, we could all choose between
EAR WAX, CHOCOLATE EARS,
 
 or the Noisiest Snack Ever Invented – POP ROCKS!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Science of Fizz 2

Every week, Madison (my 10-year old daughter) and I teach a 1.5-hour afterschool science club for K-2nd graders.  Each week she helps plan the lesson and then we write the blog about what we did. 

We have provided links to the books we used to sneak in some literacy.  We learned most of the science experiments and activities from Steve Spangler (awesome speaker and science guy extraordinaire).  We have included links to his science supplies, experiments, and videos.  We have also included links to our YouTube videos. These links take you away from the blog and to external websites.

Lesson 10
Science of Fizz 2

Science Standards Addressed:
Describe the characteristics of the 3 states of matter (solid, liquid, gas).
Know that air takes up space and exerts a force.
Know that when substances are combined they may create a new substance with different properties.
Identify forces that produce motion in objects.

Plus we snuck in some speaking and listening standards like asking questions, expressing ideas, following multi-step directions, and participating in discussions.


10 minutes
Since we planned on using Alka Seltzer (seltzer) to make things go BOOM, as the kids arrived, we played Boom, Boom, Boom, by Jock Jams; Boom Boom Ain’t it Great to be Crazy, and of course the Alka Seltzer jingle – Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh What a Relief it Is.

As a fake-out, we put out some seltzer tablets with the snack
– a hint of the science to follow.
  The kids thought we were weird.
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