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Elements of Mathematics: Foundations reviews? (x-posted)


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11 hours ago, 4KookieKids said:

Will do. DS is in ch 2 of AoPS Algebra now, plugging along at his own pace. I confess that EMF seems a bit pricey to me, given that I have a math background and can offer an awful lot of help myself (all we pay for with AoPS is the textbook itself)... But I also recognize it's probably about on par (or even less) than many "deeper" options. I'm thinking of giving him the placement just to see where he'd land, but I notice that they say to start at the beginning and work through the whole thing, regardless of background. I'd really love to get him into something that would help him write proofs, because right now, that's an area where he's really struggling and we've made no real headway.

This is why we switched to AoPS online classes. We were getting none of this in Sacha's AoPS Academy classes. He is learning (the painfully hard way) now how to organize his thoughts. It's just crazy to me how he can get blue for the week in both Alcumus and the challenge problems and completely bomb the writing problem because he has no clue how to organize his ADHD thoughts in a structured way. 

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Just now, SeaConquest said:

This is why we switched to AoPS online classes. We were getting none of this in Sacha's AoPS Academy classes. He is learning (the painfully hard way) now how to organize his thoughts. It's just crazy to me how he can get blue for the week in both Alcumus and the challenge problems and completely bomb the writing problem because he has no clue how to organize his ADHD thoughts in a structured way. 

I'd be curious what his strategies for the challenge problems are!!

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11 hours ago, 4KookieKids said:

He just can't do it. At all. Like, he has no idea what to write down. When he does write things down, they don't make much sense. Organizing work is horrible (very smart, but autistic and dysgraphic and pretty high on the adhd scales....) Last summer I sat with him 2 hours a day for five weeks straight, with a focus on proofs and write-ups, and I'm not sure he learned anything that entire five weeks. lol. I haven't tried since then, because I've just had no idea how to even try again. lol. 

This is the struggle we are having right now, but Professor Not a Number has been gracious enough to help Sacha try to learn to organize his non-neurotypical thoughts. It's a painful struggle, so I feel you. He literally is clueless about what they want him to do, and I just had no idea how to help him because the geometry that I learned was nothing on the level of AoPS.

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1 minute ago, Not_a_Number said:

I'd be curious what his strategies for the challenge problems are!!

No clue. He comes to me sometimes when he's stuck, and all I ever say is 1) did you check the book, 2) did you check the message board, or 3) did you read the transcript again? He told me that he does normally use Geogebra. That's all I know.

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Just now, SeaConquest said:

No clue. He comes to me sometimes when he's stuck, and all I ever say is 1) did you check the book, 2) did you check the message board, or 3) did you read the transcript again? He told me that he does normally use Geogebra. That's all I know.

Interesting. Well, he can e-mail me when stuck if he wants, I'm curious! 

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It's funny.  People on this board treat "proofs" as a completely different animal from solving a problem.  I always think of a proof as a problem where they give you the answer in advance.  Now you need to show why  it is the answer.  

So now in retrospect, I suppose it is a different animal.  Especially if you can already see the answer in your mind and have never had to derive it yourself or explain a solution to anyone.  

For me, I rarely see  the answer straightaway.  I will see the first 2 steps to take to get to the answer, but I still need to actually take those steps, so to me a "proof" is really a crutch or a proof is just my way of solving a problem.  

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3 minutes ago, daijobu said:

It's funny.  People on this board treat "proofs" as a completely different animal from solving a problem.  I always think of a proof as a problem where they give you the answer in advance.  Now you need to show why it is the answer.  

So now in retrospect, I suppose it is a different animal.  Especially if you can already see the answer in your mind and have never had to derive it yourself or explain a solution to anyone.  

For me, I rarely see  the answer straightaway.  I will see the first 2 steps to take to get to the answer, but I still need to actually take those steps, so to me a "proof" is really a crutch or a proof is just my way of solving a problem.  

Huh. That's interesting. I usually solve problems, THEN write proofs for them. Sometimes, in the process of writing a proof, I discover that I was wrong 😛

To me, having a proof just means I actually solved the problem. 

I have to say, in my experience, a lot of solutions to problems that don't lead to proofs are like my kids' Minesweeper skills 😉 . You can have excellent intuition, but if you can't justify something with a watertight argument, you can't be quite sure it's right. And occasionally, you'll blow up 😉 . 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:

Huh. That's interesting. I usually solve problems, THEN write proofs for them. Sometimes, in the process of writing a proof, I discover that I was wrong 😛

To me, having a proof just means I actually solved the problem. 

I have to say, in my experience, a lot of solutions to problems that don't lead to proofs are like my kids' Minesweeper skills 😉 . You can have excellent intuition, but if you can't justify something with a watertight argument, you can't be quite sure it's right. And occasionally, you'll blow up 😉 . 

Omg, Minesweeper! I used to love that game! Do they still make it?

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1 minute ago, SeaConquest said:

Omg, Minesweeper! I used to love that game! Do they still make it?

I can find it online, but because I was feeling ambitious, I made it myself, lol. It's easy to make! 

And yes, I used to waste so much time with that game!! 

Apparently, it's also a project in the Python class. 

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On 2/15/2021 at 6:43 PM, Not_a_Number said:

...

No problem! I'm curious: does it never work for you? I remember solving contest problems as I was falling asleep in high school 😄 

Nope.  I can't say I've ever had a brilliant solution come to me in my sleep.  Weird, since this seems to be a common thing.

17 hours ago, MamaSprout said:

EMF is probably more discovery-based than AoPS. ETA It's more "concrete" in the sense that they are sometime manipulating physical representations of what they are learning, but dd is still discovering what the names of things are (in Calc BC) that she knows intuitively from the earlier EMF classes. She occasionally misses questions in class because what the teacher is trying teach is just "common sense" to her.

Oooh, that sounds like it could be really perfect.  He says that Dragonbox really helped prepare him for Algebra, so I can see this really working for him.  I may try that free class while we try to plug away through AoPS.  Wonder how that would work...

 

I'd love to respond more thoroughly, but this is the first I've had power in over 24 hours and I don't expect it to last, so I'm trying to cram in anything I need to do as quickly as I can.  But see--you ranked high enough that I made sure to check in here!  It's been fun to speed-read the conversations.

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Thank you for sharing! I’m eyeing this as well, as DD has asked for more math. (She went from not being able to articulate her interests a year ago to now being firmly confident in her desire to carve out lots of time for math over the coming years.) @MamaSprout, what is the difference between EMF and IMACS? Is it the same content, except that  EMF is asynchronous / online / self paced, while IMACS is live online? Or are there differences in content? They look like the same parent company, so I’m confused. Also, I visited their website a year ago, and it seemed different - at that time it seemed like IMACS was the more advanced level and EMF was the intro level - is that accurate?

 

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My DS 9 loves EMF. He calls it "magical meep math," lol. In all seriousness, though, it's good math, just as solid as AoPS, but with a different emphasis. The two are so incredibly different that a kid could probably do all/most of EMF and then restart near the beginning of AoPS and vice versa.

The "pre-algebra" courses cover much more than pre-algebra and in a way that is dramatically different from AoPS. My DS 9 did the first 5 EMF courses off and on in between AoPS Geometry and Intermediate Algebra assignments and it was new and interesting enough to keep him going back for more. He spent FOREVER on EMF 06 and managed to fail the final test -- seriously, 50%, and that was after maintaining a mid-90s score until the final. Still don't know what went on there except he maybe just lost interest because... fractions? No idea. Anyway, he's doing EMF 07 now while he waits for his AoPS Precalculus class to get started and seems likely to continue intermittently with EMF courses for fun.

EMF uses a really MATHY math approach. That's the best explanation I can give. I have an engineering background, and when I look at AoPS problems from the main track books I know what I'm seeing and can figure out the answers without too much trouble (admittedly, Intro to C&P threw me for a loop, never having experienced combination notation before that). When I look at the stuff DS 9 is doing in EMF, I just feel confused. I don't know what all the symbols stand for and sometimes there are these arrow diagrams and other things that are *completely* foreign to me. I think I'd have to go back to the beginning to read through and learn all the symbols and lingo. They use language for math that I've never seen before. Like last week DS 9 was doing some exercises converting between decimals and fractions or the other way around, which is relatively rare in EMF, usually things are not that straightforward, but they were calling the fractions "standard names" and the decimals were "positional names" and there was no way to know what was expected in the exercise without that vocabulary.

 

On 2/15/2021 at 5:27 PM, eternallytired said:

He's 12.  By age, he'd be a sixth grader.  He started BA3 in first grade after having flown through RS B&C in kindy and requesting "hard" math.  He was doing pretty well at getting through a year of BA in a calendar year (we probably lost six months over the course of BA3-5), but PreA took 18 mos, and he's ten mos into Intro to Alg and still finishing chapter 10.  Since the AoPS classes go so quickly, it makes me feel like we're falling waaay behind.  I'm trying to remind myself that I'm more concerned about mastering the material than speeding ahead, but I'm not always successful at convincing myself that I'm not failing him by not pushing him to move at a more normal clip.  (Can you tell that I overthink pretty much every area of my life?)

My DS 11 is on a pretty similar trajectory. Started with RS in kinder, moved on to BA 3 in 1st... and is now just halfway through pre-algebra with AoPS in 6th. It's really felt like he's been treading water in math for the last couple of years. He, unfortunately, did not think EMF was fun or cool when we tried it last year. I might have to try the first course with him again soon since it's still free...

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6 hours ago, JHLWTM said:

Thank you for sharing! I’m eyeing this as well, as DD has asked for more math. (She went from not being able to articulate her interests a year ago to now being firmly confident in her desire to carve out lots of time for math over the coming years.) @MamaSprout, what is the difference between EMF and IMACS? Is it the same content, except that  EMF is asynchronous / online / self paced, while IMACS is live online? Or are there differences in content? They look like the same parent company, so I’m confused. Also, I visited their website a year ago, and it seemed different - at that time it seemed like IMACS was the more advanced level and EMF was the intro level - is that accurate?

 

Imacs is the name of the whole organization. They have EMF and what they call University Level Courses. EMF was created as an interactive, self-paced version of the old books that Project MEGSSS uses for their "elements" courses.

The older self-paced University Courses are built on the same platform, but offer access to a teacher. 

The Imacs Live Courses are an online outgrowth of some existing live in-person courses that they have always had in Florida and cover the same material, but offer group and teacher interaction.

Edited by MamaSprout
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6 hours ago, Cake and Pi said:

My DS 9 loves EMF. He calls it "magical meep math," lol. In all seriousness, though, it's good math, just as solid as AoPS, but with a different emphasis. The two are so incredibly different that a kid could probably do all/most of EMF and then restart near the beginning of AoPS and vice versa.

The "pre-algebra" courses cover much more than pre-algebra and in a way that is dramatically different from AoPS. My DS 9 did the first 5 EMF courses off and on in between AoPS Geometry and Intermediate Algebra assignments and it was new and interesting enough to keep him going back for more. He spent FOREVER on EMF 06 and managed to fail the final test -- seriously, 50%, and that was after maintaining a mid-90s score until the final. Still don't know what went on there except he maybe just lost interest because... fractions? No idea. Anyway, he's doing EMF 07 now while he waits for his AoPS Precalculus class to get started and seems likely to continue intermittently with EMF courses for fun.

EMF uses a really MATHY math approach. That's the best explanation I can give. I have an engineering background, and when I look at AoPS problems from the main track books I know what I'm seeing and can figure out the answers without too much trouble (admittedly, Intro to C&P threw me for a loop, never having experienced combination notation before that). When I look at the stuff DS 9 is doing in EMF, I just feel confused. I don't know what all the symbols stand for and sometimes there are these arrow diagrams and other things that are *completely* foreign to me. I think I'd have to go back to the beginning to read through and learn all the symbols and lingo. They use language for math that I've never seen before. Like last week DS 9 was doing some exercises converting between decimals and fractions or the other way around, which is relatively rare in EMF, usually things are not that straightforward, but they were calling the fractions "standard names" and the decimals were "positional names" and there was no way to know what was expected in the exercise without that vocabulary.

 

My DS 11 is on a pretty similar trajectory. Started with RS in kinder, moved on to BA 3 in 1st... and is now just halfway through pre-algebra with AoPS in 6th. It's really felt like he's been treading water in math for the last couple of years. He, unfortunately, did not think EMF was fun or cool when we tried it last year. I might have to try the first course with him again soon since it's still free...

I’d love to see some screenshots from, you, too, if you get some.

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Ok, can anyone tell me what the max total file size I can upload is < 1 MB? Is the file attachment limit really this low, or is something wrong with my account?

ETA I've had this for a while - it seems like every time I upload something, it takes away from some "total," rather than being a "per post" sort of thing. Is this a glitch?

Edited by 4KookieKids
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Ok, after compressing the pics about 6 times, they will fit.... Though I really do need to figure out this attachment issue (it now says I have a max upload file size limit of just 400 kB!!) The images got kind of mixed up and it won't let me rearrange them, but I included the table of contents so you can see the order things came in. 

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Edited by 4KookieKids
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4 hours ago, 4KookieKids said:

Ok, after compressing the pics about 6 times, they will fit.... Though I really do need to figure out this attachment issue (it now says I have a max upload file size limit of just 400 kB!!) The images got kind of mixed up and it won't let me rearrange them, but I included the table of contents so you can see the order things came in. 

Screen Shot 2021-02-17 at 2.36.05 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-02-17 at 2.35.57 PM.pngScreen Shot 2021-02-17 at 2.35.14 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-02-17 at 2.35.05 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-02-17 at 2.34.44 PM.png

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Thanks!! Very helpful. 

So, to my mind, this still doesn't seem to spend enough time with the concrete objects and building up intuitions. It still kind of seems to be built on the idea that you can give kids problems, and that by solving those problems, kids will form the correct mental models. I've unfortunately not found that to be the case. I've found that I have to make kids work with the most helpful model over and over again before it becomes primary. 

Am I misinterpreting, you think? I'm obviously not seeing the whole program... 

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  • 2 weeks later...

So my ds is heartbroken. Had a 90% going in to the last test on EMF, but I didn’t think to prep him for a test you can’t repeat and he’s completely used to do-overs. He was rushing to finish because he was excited and he made a bunch of mistakes and  only got something like 46/76 correct and now feels like an utter failure, with no chance of redemption. 😞 

ETA: I just got an email from EMF saying his score on the final exam was 83% (adjusted due to difficulty). I have no idea what that means, but I'm sure it will make him feel better!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,  My twins are currently both in Elements of Mathematics course 7 "The Decimals".  Because they do it independently I cannot comment a lot about the actual content.  I've been satisfied that the topics listed in their course description are interesting and useful and that I've heard other kids say good things about what they learned.  I will offer my thoughts and some of the kids thoughts about the program otherwise.  Both started last year when IMACS started offering free classes due to COVID.  They were 11 at the time and I believe IMACS does consider that to be on the younger side (though I know that some younger and PG young kids take the courses successfully).  Both had already completed most of AOPS Pre-Algebra before starting as well.  

DS says AOPS is more challenging than EMF, DD says EMF is more challenging than AOPS. 🙂

Both say that it has given them new understandings and they want to continue doing both.  

Both like working independently at their own speed (it's looked at as a fun bonus activity even though it is challenging).  They've each had areas they've had to really slow down and take extra time, and they've been different sections.   I have been pleasantly surprised at how interested they are to do the reading and to really dig in and figure out what they're not understanding when they get a problem wrong the first time.  There are periods that they sort of take a small break from doing it and other times that they are wanting to spend a lot of time moving through.   There is a pacing guide on their website that reflects what a public school in Florida uses to offer the program in a school year, but I think in a homeschool environment the pacing guide, if used to schedule work,  could be a hinderance to getting the most out of the program.  

DD especially likes how a lot of problems have a theme and that they build in difficulty.  She does get a bit stressed about the grades though because she says sometimes missing one thing can give her a low score.  She has always gotten an A or a B overall, so I'm not sure why it stresses her (could be competition with brother).  IMACS does recommend waiting and coming back to the course if a child scores lower than 75% (I think.  I know there is some threshold).  We don't otherwise use grades in homeschool so this has been a good intro to wanting a good grade and working carefully to try to achieve it. 

We do have some trouble with the interface from time to time and there have been times DD gets frustrated and stops working for the day due to it.   It hasn't been a deal breaker overall.

DS has used the help/question feature and found it helpful.  

I would recommend trying the courses to any kid that likes math/logic/games/problem solving and feels like giving it a shot after taking their screening test.  

We're considering computer science with IMACS via enrichment or classes and talked to a representative the other day.  We've only had pleasant and helpful interactions with the company and don't mind answering any questions.  

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My daughter has been with IMacs since 4th grade in their Math Enrichment and Computer programming classes.  She also enjoyed their logic and electronics classes before transitioning into EMF in 7th grade, while also completing Algebra 1 Honors through FLVS and beginning IMacs UCS1 course.  I can say unequivocally she would not be where she is today without IMacs.  She loves her courses- feels challenged by them and fights hard for each grade. She could have done the EMF and tried to enter high school at higher level of math than she will- but she wants to spend the time investing in her math foundations so she can make A’s in her high school math courses and do well in College Math.  She has a tutor on occasion for some of the Algebra and Geometry concepts she has been learning and he is a retired university professor/ he gave her the best advice which is not to rush through but really learn it bc so many students rush through these courses and end off in college having to change their majors bc they can’t do the math!  So choose wisely and keep your long term goals in sight.  

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/17/2021 at 2:07 PM, kiwik said:

Ds11 is doing course 1.  He is highly gifted with ASD and learning to persist is a major part of his education.

I was really impressed with his effort and patience and he was doing well but he is quite slow and I think we will try again in a year.

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On 3/27/2021 at 1:36 PM, Macjl02 said:

My daughter has been with IMacs since 4th grade in their Math Enrichment and Computer programming classes.  She also enjoyed their logic and electronics classes before transitioning into EMF in 7th grade, while also completing Algebra 1 Honors through FLVS and beginning IMacs UCS1 course.  I can say unequivocally she would not be where she is today without IMacs.  She loves her courses- feels challenged by them and fights hard for each grade. She could have done the EMF and tried to enter high school at higher level of math than she will- but she wants to spend the time investing in her math foundations so she can make A’s in her high school math courses and do well in College Math.  She has a tutor on occasion for some of the Algebra and Geometry concepts she has been learning and he is a retired university professor/ he gave her the best advice which is not to rush through but really learn it bc so many students rush through these courses and end off in college having to change their majors bc they can’t do the math!  So choose wisely and keep your long term goals in sight.  

It really sounds like your daughter is going to have an awesome math/logic/cs foundation for her future.  My husband, an engineer, and I have been talking about how we wish we'd had access to resources like iMacs offers as kids.  IIRC, about a quarter of my freshman year Intro to Computer Science class dropped the class and many changed their major after the class. The class used scheme, like UCS1, and my alma mater is still, more than 2 decades later, using scheme in the intro course. So many of my classmates weren't used to working on more challenging problems that they couldn't just apply an algorithm to.  

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My daughter is in public school in 7th grade.  I looked at and tried about 6 math programs and we settled on EMF.  She started it mid-6th grade and made a lot of progress during the pandemic.  She is in the 9th class.  I work on it with her about 15 minutes most days.  It's self-paced and she is very collaborative.  If I did not enjoy working on it with her, I would need to hire someone similar to a piano teacher to look at it with her and encourage her to work on it.  When I work on it with her, I can feel my mind expanding and struggling to make sense of what I am learning.  For example, we learned about sets (course 3), and put what we learned into the "operational system" framework (from course 1). E.g. is this associative? commutative? And showing things with circles and shading.  The aptitude test will give you a good flavor, and the first course is free.  At first I thought, "This is interesting, but is it math?" but by the middle of the first course, I realized it was veering into abstract algebra.  It is very rigorous (using appropriate math terms and techniques), covers interesting topics not typically done in pre-algebra (e.g. sets, combinatorics), and theoretical.  I am extremely happy with this course.  I've included some screen shots (but obviously these in out of context might not be well understood) 

EMF_ Class4_Ordered n-Tuples (Page 77).pdf EMF_ Class4_Ordered n-Tuples (Page 71).pdf EMF_ Class3_Sets, Subsets and Set Operations (Page 98).pdf EMF_ Class3_Sets, Subsets and Set Operations (Page 18).pdf EMF_ Class1_Operational Systems (Page 78).pdf EMF_ Class1_Operational Systems (Page 36).pdf EMF_ Class1_Operational Systems (Page 12).pdf

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Just a quick reflection...

ODS took EMF course 1, and he LOVED it.  One benefit that I didn't anticipate was that, unlike AOPS, there is no answer key.  With AOPS, he would struggle for a while and then ask me to help him get started in the right direction.  With EMF, I can't just look at an answer and get an idea of how to talk him through trying to figure out what to do.  The best I can do is say, "Have you looked to see if there are any questions and answers on this topic?  Have you gone back to re-read the definitions?"  At first that seemed like a negative, but I'm finding that it's been great for his problem-solving and independence.  This is a child who doesn't naturally think to do things for himself (or have the EF to consider how to go about solving a problem if the solution isn't readily apparent), and I don't always think to push him to more independence or know when to step in (how much frustration is healthy vs. counterproductive).  It was rather lovely for both of us to have a class where there was struggle and frustration, but ultimately he succeeded without my intervention.  Also helpful was the review session before the test.  He scored horribly on the review (something like 69%), which led him to realize the importance of slowing down and working carefully.  (He scored 98% on the final test, which greatly relieved us both.) He's super excited for me to sign him up for the next class, so we'll keep going for a while and see how it works for us.

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16 hours ago, eternallytired said:

ODS took EMF course 1, and he LOVED it.  One benefit that I didn't anticipate was that, unlike AOPS, there is no answer key.  With AOPS, he would struggle for a while and then ask me to help him get started in the right direction.

I absolutely know what you mean about that. We have a version of this times 10 in this household... I make the math lessons, and therefore, by definition, I know ALL the answers. And that has led to lots of unproductive behavior over the years. 

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