Tinkering School

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Train Bridge - Week 8 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Another week of hard work and play, and our train/bridge is getting veerrry close to testing phase!

 Our weekly roundup discussing our plans for the day. Wouldn't be complete without snacks!

Our weekly roundup discussing our plans for the day. Wouldn't be complete without snacks!

Our bridge team decided to build some side rails for the roadways to prevent potential derailings. On behalf of all future passengers, we thank you! 

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After discussing design ideas, the group settled on using long 2x3s as the rails and cutting short support pieces that could be screwed into the rail and the side of the roadway. Simple and effective, often the best combo! 

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In the picture on the right, Jasmine practices toenailing a screw (drilling it in diagonally). Sometimes, this is the only good way to attach two pieces of wood.

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While the roadway construction crew was working hard, the train car teams made lots of progress as well. You may have wondered these past weeks if the cars we going to be Flintstone mobiles with no floors...but fear not for splintered feet, floors are on the way!

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We saw lots of great collaboration again today: measuring, carrying wood, cutting etc. Tinkering together is a ton of fun!

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With a little sanding, the floor boards were ready for installation.

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 Testing out the hinged entry door on the back of the shark car. 

Testing out the hinged entry door on the back of the shark car. 

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The taco and rowboat cars got some love as well and are nearly ready for their own floor installations. Next week we'll be ready to install the wheels! 

 This could be a good photo candidate for a caption competition :)

This could be a good photo candidate for a caption competition :)

With all the progress made today, we are on target to install some wheels next week on our train cars. Then let the testing phase begin! You may want to check back...maybe...might be sorta interesting...you might see kids rolling across a bridge in a shark...just saying... :)

Giant Insects - Week 3 - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Spring 2018)Brendon BellComment

The insects are beginning to hatch and grow! Wings and legs, bee bodies and more!

Since we completed tool training last week, our Willie Mays crew had the full session to build their giant insect creatures. The flying spider team took advantage of their time and got started right away cutting out the wings.

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 The kids learned how to use the jig saw to easily cut out curved lines. We recently switched to a cordless jig saw and are loving the increased flexibility it provides. The blade also stops moving almost instantaneously after use; a great safety feature! At Tinkering School, we're always focused on finding and using the safest power tools. 

The kids learned how to use the jig saw to easily cut out curved lines. We recently switched to a cordless jig saw and are loving the increased flexibility it provides. The blade also stops moving almost instantaneously after use; a great safety feature! At Tinkering School, we're always focused on finding and using the safest power tools. 

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After cutting the wings, the rough edges needed a quick sanding to improve aerodynamic performance.  

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Our butterfly crew also got some time with the jig saw cutting out a diamond shaped piece of plywood for the body.

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 Lots of of opportunities to practice using clamps! 

Lots of of opportunities to practice using clamps! 

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And our melted ice cream bug got some support (framing pieces for the foundation).

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Not to be left out, our stinger lady bug/bee team also made good progress!

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 Mau'Rae cuts out two circular side pieces for the body. 

Mau'Rae cuts out two circular side pieces for the body. 

Malea drilled eyes for the lady bug/bee. Some insects may not need eyes, but this one will have excellent optics. Maybe the team will build their bug giant safety glasses too!

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We're excited to collaborate next week with this great group and see their buggy creations begin to take flight and crawl around! 

Giant Insects - Week 2 - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Spring 2018)Brendon BellComment

"What are we going to build!?" A classic question that collaborators have been fielding since Tinkering School's inception over ten years ago. And last week we certainly heard a few variations from our Willie Mays tinkering crew :)

So what are we going to build?

GIANT INSECTS! Not only giant insects, but giant insects that have to collect giant bits of pollen and transport them back to their hive.  The kids were up for the challenge and they jumped into imagining and designing their insects. What will they look like? How will they pick up the pollen?

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So far we will be building a winged spider, a butterfly, a cute bee/caterpillar, and a bug that looks like melted ice-cream with a jet pack on its back! Can't wait to see these insects in action!

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With some hard design work under our belts, it was time to move on to more tool training. Next up, the CHOP SAW!

The kids learned all about the blood bubble (the area near the blade that all fingers and appendages must remain well outside of). We also had the kids feel their arms and notice how squishy they are compared to the the wood. If the saw can cut through the wood like butter, what does that mean for our fingers/arms...? We want the kids to have a healthy respect for the saw and what it can do if not used properly. At the same time, we also work to instill a feeling of confidence in their ability to use the saw and other tools safely. That's why we train each child on our very specific safety measures. A collaborator is also right there by their side at all times, watching, and controlling the power button. At Tinkering School, safety is always #1.

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Each tinkerer got a chance to cut their first piece of wood. They'll have lots of opportunities to practice more in the upcoming weeks!

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To complete our introductory tool training, we next learned how to use clamps, an essential tool in any workshop.

 Building is fierce!

Building is fierce!

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Tinkering is all about learning by doing. The kids quickly mastered the clamps and crafted some cool sculptures/bridges in the process.

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 We can have fun tinkering with any material, even just clamps and 2x3s!

We can have fun tinkering with any material, even just clamps and 2x3s!

Tool training complete - check.

Design brainstorming complete - check.

Next week, we'll create blueprints of our giant insects and begin the really fun phase of actually building our epic creations! Keep checking back in to see our progress!

Train Bridge - Week 7 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Come in bridge road construction crew...(crackle, static)

...its time to build and raise our roadway! Over. (more static)....

Another week, and the B&GC Mission Clubhouse tinkerers once again brought their A-game! Our crew got started right away testing designs for our roadway. We started out with single sheets of 3/4in plywood. Would it be strong enough?

 Elina veery carefully tests the plywood sheets' deflection strength. Can you see its slight bend?

Elina veery carefully tests the plywood sheets' deflection strength. Can you see its slight bend?

But what if we have two kids or two train cars riding over the roadway at the same time!?

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Aghhhh! We definitely heard a couple cracks before Alberto and Marco made their way across the roadway. I doubt we would have many paying customers riding over our bridge with a bend like that, but luckily Ailey suggested we build some supports under the plywood to stiffen it up. Let the measuring, cutting, and drilling commence!

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With three teams, we were able to quickly construct multiple road segments. One for the bridge and two to slope down from the bridge ends down the ground.

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 One of the nice things about building with wood, is that it bends (to an extent). Ailey "nudges" a cross support into place with a mallet.

One of the nice things about building with wood, is that it bends (to an extent). Ailey "nudges" a cross support into place with a mallet.

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With the roadways completed, we shifted to attaching the cross supports on the towers that the road will sit on.

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 Is it level? The kids learned how to use a bubble level to make sure the road would sit evenly in place.

Is it level? The kids learned how to use a bubble level to make sure the road would sit evenly in place.

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And finally it was time to hoist the roadway between the towers!

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We didn't quite have time to screw in the road to the towers this week, so instead we used clamps to secure it for testing.

As with all semi dangerous builds, we have Tinkering School collaborators test the structural integrity of a project first before any young tinkerers test our their handiwork. 

 I ended up picking the lucky straw to take the first steps into the unknown...

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 It didn't bend! And thankfully no one heard any creaking or cracking either. It was super sturdy. Nice work crew!

It didn't bend! And thankfully no one heard any creaking or cracking either. It was super sturdy. Nice work crew!

With the all clear signal, the kids each carefully walked across their bridge for the first time!

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 Priceless :-)

Priceless :-)

So we know that these tinkerers can build a strong pedestrian bridge. But will they be able to rise to the challenge and make it train worthy??? Check out the blog next week to find out!

Giant Insects - Week 1 - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Spring 2018)Brendon BellComment

Spring is here! And that means our Tinkering School collaborators are excited to welcome two new tinkering crews to our Willie Mays workshop :)

 Name tags and snack time. Tinkering can be very tiring sometimes...good to have extra fuel reserves!

Name tags and snack time. Tinkering can be very tiring sometimes...good to have extra fuel reserves!

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To start our session, we each picked one of the four tinkering school goals we wanted to focus on individually and accomplish during our weeks together. We also spent time brainstorming a list of group agreements for how we wanted to treat each other, and how to use tools and the workshop safely.

After agreeing to agreeably uphold our group agreements, we jumped into tool training! First up...

DRILLS!

(The coveted favorite of many a young tinkerer :)

 Reggie explains the fine art of collecting screws, drill bits, and screw bits in a one of our most important safety devices - the screw bucket. You would be amazed where screws can end up without a good container nearby!

Reggie explains the fine art of collecting screws, drill bits, and screw bits in a one of our most important safety devices - the screw bucket. You would be amazed where screws can end up without a good container nearby!

 Learning about the drill's buttons and switches and all their functions.

Learning about the drill's buttons and switches and all their functions.

We always demonstrate the safe and proper use of a particular tool before we supervise the kids as they try them out themselves. Below, Reggie shows one way to measure how deep a drill bit will go. (Measure on the outside of a piece of wood!) It's a useful technique to avoid drilling into a unintended surface (concrete, table top, etc).

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Snapshots courtesy of one of our tinkerers. Looks like this crew isn't having much fun... ;)

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Julie demonstrates how to remove a drill bit. We always drop them into a bucket because they can be hot after drilling, and also to avoid round objects rolling around on the ground. 

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At Tinkering School we believe that the best way to learn is to try things ourselves. To have a chance to make mistakes and learn from them. Everyone had an opportunity to practice their new drilling and screwing skills. They also got lots of chances to collaborate and help each other by holding down the wood blocks while their partners drilled. As Reggie likes to say, "teamwork makes the dream work!"

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Drilling and screwing are some of the foundational skills we teach tinkerers. Next week, we'll learn how to use clamps and the chop saw. And we'll discover what we'll be building! Stay tuned to find out what our mystery project will be! 

Train Bridge - Week 6 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Rollin, rollin, rollin!

Technically, our train cars aren't quite rolling yet, but with this crew's enthusiasm and hard work, we're going to be speeding over a bridge in no time. And we'll be riding in style! 

 So far, there's a terrifying shark car, a speeding taco car, and now a rowboat car (I hope this isn't in anticipation of a train derailing while going over our new Golden Gate Bridge...) 

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Focus and precision personified :)

 Nearly ready for some oars...

Nearly ready for some oars...

Anthony and Alberto learned how to use the T-square to easily make super straight lines. They used their new skills to measure and cut out some front and back panels for the shark car. 

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Once the back panel was cut, Marco had a flash of inspiration. Instead of just screwing it onto the frame, why not make it into a door that connect and open into another car! He gave a very detailed description of his vision, but he wasn't quite sure how to execute it. This is one of our key jobs and privileges as a collaborator. To watch the lightbulb go off in a child and support their flash of inspiration by giving just enough technical support to help them translate their vision into real life.

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It's a joy every time we get to witness a kid's awareness expand around what they're capable of!

We also encourage lying around on the job at tinkering school...

 Julian screws in some tricky screws, attaching one of the taco shells to the car frame. 

Julian screws in some tricky screws, attaching one of the taco shells to the car frame. 

While the train car team continued fabricating their luxury mobiles, our bridge team managed to finish the second bridge tower! 

 See the screw bucket? It may not seem important, but it's a key tinkering tool for keeping our work space safe. (Screws rolling on the ground function very similarly to banana peels...)

See the screw bucket? It may not seem important, but it's a key tinkering tool for keeping our work space safe. (Screws rolling on the ground function very similarly to banana peels...)

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With the towers completed, the bridge crew will begin construction of the roadway next week. It's going to be a real bridge in just a flash!  

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Only two more weeks to go. Where did the time run off to? Keep checking our weekly blog posts, the best is still yet to come!

Train Bridge - Week 5 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Who say's kids don't like to work hard??? 

This crew works so hard, they don't even realize they're working at all! Sshh... don't tell them ;) They may be working hard, but really they're playing hard while building. To sum this all up, let's stick with the highly scientific equation: (Tinkering = Building + Play). And this is one serious group of tinkerers!

So, to catch you up to speed, our bridge crew jumped into building the second set of towers that will support the opposite side of the bridge. I have a strong suspicion that they're able to get so much done because of their impressive teamwork...

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 Edwin cuts more pieces for the square frames Jazmine is assembling (left photo).

Edwin cuts more pieces for the square frames Jazmine is assembling (left photo).

And in the meantime, every square inch of the train cars was getting measured!

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We needed to use the measurements from the cars to draw out the side pieces. 

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You may recognize the shell of the "speed taco" car train on your left...

Our shark train car team also made lots of progress. They learned how to use the jig saw to cut out the side panels. It was especially tricky because of all the teeth!

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 Alberto drills out the eyes.

Alberto drills out the eyes.

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Aaaahhh! I would be terrified to see that shark train arriving at a bart station...just sayin...

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And not to be forgotten, our sign makers dedicated the whole session to perfecting their creations...

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One side of the wood rasp is slightly curved, the other is flat. Ailey and Elina learned when to use either option while they smoothed down the edges on their signs.

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 And a final treatment with sandpaper...

And a final treatment with sandpaper...

 Ailey's wooden duck. Is it still a sign? or will it float under the Golden Gate Bridge? I know it floats at least!   I'm not sure what it will end up being, but I definitely want to find out! 

Ailey's wooden duck. Is it still a sign? or will it float under the Golden Gate Bridge? I know it floats at least! 

I'm not sure what it will end up being, but I definitely want to find out! 

At the end of each tinkering session, we like to gather for a few minutes to debrief what we've learned and to share our progress. It's a great time to reflect on challenges we've overcome and to set intentions for our next day together.

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Look at how much we can build when we work together! (and this is only part of the bridge...)

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Can't wait till our next tinkering time together! And stay tuned - this bridge and train are being built fast!

A Mini Clubhouse - Finale! - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

The final countdown! We had a small crew again this week, but with two days of tinkering left, the kids quickly jumped into finishing the walls and roof. Would they complete them in time to assemble the clubhouse??

 Laura and Audrey finish the frame for the revolving front door.

Laura and Audrey finish the frame for the revolving front door.

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It was decided we needed an awning to cover the front door, so we got to work cutting supports, a piece of corrugated plastic, and installing the newest addition to our mini clubhouse.

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 Teamwork makes the dream work!

Teamwork makes the dream work!

And finally, after weeks of anticipation...

...it was time to put all the puzzle pieces together!

 Malieke grabs a couple handfuls of clamps. We needed them to hold our clubhouse together before we could secure it with screws.

Malieke grabs a couple handfuls of clamps. We needed them to hold our clubhouse together before we could secure it with screws.

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 Kiejuan's vertical advantage proved very helpful! 

Kiejuan's vertical advantage proved very helpful! 

 Malieke secures the floor with lots of screws. Better safe than sorry when attaching your house to it's foundation!

Malieke secures the floor with lots of screws. Better safe than sorry when attaching your house to it's foundation!

 Laura helps move the roof into its final position.

Laura helps move the roof into its final position.

 Nothing beats the satisfaction of a job well done!

Nothing beats the satisfaction of a job well done!

And VOILA!

We are proud to introduce the Boys & Girls Club of SF's newest (mini) clubhouse! 

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What a journey! It was a pleasure building with this tenacious, dedicated, and energetic group of tinkerers. We witnessed them take hold of an idea, "why don't we build a giant doghouse?" and then dream up a creative plan for how they wanted it to look. They persevered through doubts and wonderful mistakes (aka awesome learning opportunities), and by working together they completed an ambitious and impressive project. Not only will this mini clubhouse stick around for many, many kids to enjoy, it will provide a canvas for the next art class at Willie Mays clubhouse! Can't wait to see what it looks like all painted up :)

Thanks for following these tinkerers' progress. And don't forget to check out some of our other amazing Boys & Girls Club projects on our blog!

Train Bridge - Week 4 - Boys & Girls Club - Mission Clubhouse

B&GClub - M (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

Whoa! San Francisco (in year 2100) is lucky to have this super hard working team building them a new Golden Gate Bridge. It's growing soo fast!  

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Once we finished a couple towers, we needed to figure out a way to attach them to each other so they would be stable. We remembered that a lot of big bridges have X's between their towers so we decided that would probably be a good way to go with ours too. 

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Clamps proved to be a key tool for this part of the build. There were so many pieces to hold in place!

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And the first X support is attached! This is going to be a very sturdy bridge.

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A couple members of our crew decided that it was important that our bridge have some signs. What bridge doesn't!? So they jumped into action drawing and cutting out their designs. They were very excited to learn how to use a new tool - the bandsaw! 

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And our train team worked like a pro factory production line. They had their train car frames completed in no time!

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 Julian going back for more screws. We always use buckets to hold screws and drill bits so they don't end up rolling around on the floor waiting for shoes to also roll over them...

Julian going back for more screws. We always use buckets to hold screws and drill bits so they don't end up rolling around on the floor waiting for shoes to also roll over them...

Tada!!

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And our train crew even had time to start honing in on their individual train car designs. There's going to be a shark car, a bird car, and one of my favorites...

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...the SPEED TACO train car!

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Stay tuned next week - you don't want to miss these tinkerers in action!

A mini clubhouse! 4th post - Boys & Girls Club - Willie Mays Clubhouse

B&GClub -WM (Winter 2018)Brendon BellComment

This week our crew was a little smaller, but our tinkerers still accomplished a lot! 

Kiejuan took the lead in cutting and attaching the roof panels. It's really starting to come together! We built each part of the clubhouse separately in order to make it easy to store before our final assembly. 

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Laura took on a fun challenge to create a revolving door for our clubhouse.

 Laura and Julie discussing and drawing up plans.

Laura and Julie discussing and drawing up plans.

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DeAnte and Jayzal even started on a 40" flatscreen tv for the clubhouse. 

And last but certainly not least, we finished installing a "skylight" on the roof.

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It's hard to believe, but we only have one more week to continue tinkering with this crew. It's going to be amazing to see the entire clubhouse assembled next Wednesday! Keep checking back to see the ribbon cutting ceremony! 

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