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FCC Launches Update of E-Rate for Broadband in Schools and Libraries |

FCC Launches Update of E-Rate for Broadband in Schools and Libraries | | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
I.              IntroductionIn this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), we initiate a thorough review and update of the E-rate program (more formally known as the schools and libraries universal service support mechanism), building on reforms adopted in 2010 as well as the Commission’s reforms of each of the other universal service programs.  During the past 15 years, the financial support provided by the E-rate program has helped revolutionize schools’ and libraries’ access to modern communications networks.  E-rate-supported Internet connections are crucial for learning and for the operation of modern schools and libraries.[1]  Increasingly, schools and libraries require high-capacity broadband[2] connections to take advantage of digital learning technologies that hold the promise of substantially improving educational experiences and expanding opportunity for students, teachers, parents and whole communities.[3]  As a result, there is a growing chorus of calls to build on the success of the E-rate program by modernizing the program and adopting clear forward-looking goals aimed at efficiently and effectively ensuring high-capacity connections to schools and libraries nationwide.E-rate has been instrumental in ensuring our schools and libraries have the connectivity necessary to enable students and library patrons to participate in the digital world.  When Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 authorizing the creation of the E-rate program, only 14 percent of classrooms had access to the Internet, and most schools with Internet access (74 percent) used dial-up Internet access.[4]  By 2005, nearly all schools had access to the Internet, and 94 percent of all instructional classrooms had Internet access.[5]  Similarly, by 2006, nearly all public libraries were connected to the Internet, and 98 percent of them offered public Internet access.[6]  The challenge we now face is modernizing the program to ensure that our nation’s students and communities have access to high-capacity broadband connections that support digital learning while making sure that the program remains fiscally responsible and fair to the consumers and businesses that pay into the universal service fund (USF or Fund).In schools, high-capacity broadband connectivity, combined with cutting-edge educational tools and content, is transforming learning by providing customized teaching opportunities, giving students and teachers access to interactive content, and offering assessments and analytics that provide students, their teachers, and their parents, real-time information about student performance.[7]  High-capacity broadband is also expanding the boundaries of our schools by allowing for interactive and collaborative distance learning applications, providing all students – from rural communities to inner cities – access to high-quality courses and expert instruction, no matter how small a school they attend or how far they live from experts in their field of study.  High-capacity broadband platforms and the educational options they enable are particularly crucial for providing all students, in both rural and urban communities, customized and personalized education and access to cutting-edge learning tools in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, thus preparing our students to compete in the global economy.In libraries, high-capacity broadband access provides patrons the ability to search for and apply for jobs; learn new skills; interact with federal, state, local, and Tribal government agencies; search for health-care and other crucial information; make well-informed purchasing decisions; engage in life-long learning; and stay in touch with friends and family.  In Idaho, for example, the state agency’s Libraries Linking Idaho database portal, available in all Idaho libraries, provides essential resources to library patrons such as an online video encyclopedia and a program to provide tools for test preparation and skill-building.[8]  Additionally, the Chicago Public Library’s YOUMedia and The Labs at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh offer young people an opportunity to produce rich, multi-media products using the latest technology tools while connecting these learning experiences directly back to school and careers.[9]  Further, the Howard County Public Library in Maryland houses a Learning Lab to engage young adults in using new and emerging media and technology.[10]  Libraries are uniquely important because they provide Internet access to all residents in communities they serve.[11]  In addition, libraries support distance learning and continuing education for college and adult students.[12]    There is strong evidence and growing consensus that E-rate needs to sharpen its focus and provide schools and libraries with high-capacity broadband connections.  In response to a 2010 Commission survey of E-rate funded schools and libraries, only 10 percent of survey respondents reported broadband speeds of 100 Mbps or greater, while 48 percent reported broadband speeds of less than 10 Mbps.[13]  Approximately 39 percent of the respondents cited cost of service as a barrier in meeting their needs, and 27 percent cited cost of installation as a barrier.[14] Likewise, although the speeds of library connections have been increasing over time, many libraries report that speeds are insufficient to meet their growing needs.  An annual survey done by the American Library Association (ALA) shows that in 2011-2012, while 9 percent of libraries reported connection speeds of greater than 100 Mbps, 25 percent of libraries still have speeds of 1.5 Mbps or less, and approximately 62 percent of libraries reported connection speeds of 10 Mbps or less.[15]  Thus, notwithstanding the trend towards faster speeds, 41 percent of libraries reported that their speeds fail to meet their patrons’ needs some or most of the time.[16] Last month, President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative aimed at connecting all schools to the digital age.[17]  The ConnectED initiative seeks to connect schools and libraries serving 99 percent of our students to next-generation high-capacity broadband (with speeds of no less than 100 Mbps and a target speed of 1 Gbps) and to provide high-capacity wireless connectivity within those schools and libraries within five years.[18]  President Obama has called on the Commission to modernize and leverage the E-rate program to help meet those targets.  Teachers, local school officials, state education leaders, digital learning experts, and businesses from across the country endorsed President Obama’s vision and have called for an update to the E-rate program to meet today’s teaching and learning needs.[19] In voicing his support for President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, one of the original supporters of the E-rate program, explained: “[I]n its almost two decades, the E-Rate program has fundamentally transformed education in this country – we have connected our most remote schools and libraries to the world.  But as impressive and important as the E-Rate program has been, basic Internet connectivity is no longer sufficient to meet our 21st Century educational needs.”[20]  Even more recently, the bipartisan Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission has taken up the call and released a blue print for paving a path to digital learning in the United States which    highlights “inadequate high-speed Internet connectivity in the classrooms” as “the most immediate and expensive barrier to implementing technology in education,” and calls modernizing E-rate the “centerpiece of solving the infrastructure challenge.”[21]The need for E-rate reform is also clear given the extraordinary demand for existing E-rate support.  For this funding year,[22] schools and libraries sought E-rate funding in excess of $4.9 billion, more than twice the annual cap of $2.25 billion.[23]  The E-rate funding cap was set by the Commission when it created the E-rate program in 1997 and demand for funds has exceeded the cap every year since the inception of the program.[24]  Moreover, technology is constantly evolving, so to be most effective, the E-rate program must evolve to meet the current and future needs of schools and libraries. Therefore, in this NPRM, we seek to modernize E-rate to ensure that it can most efficiently and effectively help schools and libraries meet their connectivity needs over the course of the rest of this decade and the next.Three years ago, the Commission took important initial steps to modernize E-rate to improve efficiency and respond to the increasing technological needs of schools and libraries in response to recommendations made in the National Broadband Plan.[25]  The reforms, adopted in the Schools and Libraries Sixth Report and Order, focused on: (1) providing greater flexibility to schools and libraries in their selection of the most cost-effective broadband services; (2) streamlining the E-rate application process; and (3) improving safeguards against fraud, waste, and abuse.[26]  Among other things, the Commission allowed schools and libraries to lease dark fiber from any entity, including state, municipal or regional research networks and utility companies;[27] made permanent a rule to allow schools to open their facilities to the public when schools are not in session so that community members may use the school’s E-rate supported services on the school’s campus;[28] and established the Learning On-The-Go (also known as E-rate Deployed Ubiquitously (EDU) 2011) pilot program to investigate the merits and challenges of wireless off-premises connectivity services for mobile learning devices.[29]In this NPRM, we seek comment on ways to build on these steps and more comprehensively modernize E-rate, including improving the efficiency and administration of the program.  We begin by proposing explicit program goals and seeking comment on specific ways to measure our progress towards meeting those goals.  During the last two years, the Commission has established goals and measures as part of modernizing the three other universal service support programs.[30]  Today, we propose to do the same for the E-rate program.  We then seek comment on a number of possible approaches to achieving each of our proposed goals.Thus, the balance of this NPRM is organized into the following six sections:In Section II, we propose three goals for the E-rate program:

(1) Ensuring schools and libraries have affordable access to 21st Century broadband that supports digital learning;

(2) Maximizing the cost-effectiveness of E-rate funds; and

(3) Streamlining the administration of the E-rate program. 

We also propose to adopt measures for each of the proposed goals. 

In proposing to adopt specific goals and measures, we seek to focus available funds on the highest communications priorities for schools and libraries and, over time, to determine whether E-rate funds are effectively targeted to meet those goals.

In Section III, we focus on the first proposed goal and seek comment on ways to modernize and reform the E-rate program to better ensure eligible schools and libraries have affordable access to high-capacity broadband.  First, we propose to focus E-rate funds on supporting high-capacity broadband to and within schools and libraries, and we seek comment on updating the list of services eligible for E-rate support.  Second, we seek comment on various options for ensuring equitable access to limited E-rate funding.  Finally, we seek comment on what other measures we could take if these steps, combined with the other efficiency measures proposed elsewhere in this NPRM, appear insufficient to meet our program goals.  In particular, we seek comment on potential options to focus additional state, local, and federal funding on school connectivity and to lower the costs of new high-capacity broadband deployment to schools and libraries. In Section IV, we focus on the second proposed goal and seek comment on maximizing the cost-effectiveness of E-rate purchases, including how we can encourage increased consortium purchasing; create bulk buying opportunities; increase transparency of spending and prices; amend the competitive bidding processes; and encouraging efficient use of funding.  We also seek comment on a pilot program to incent and test more efficient purchasing practices. In Section V, we focus on the third proposed goal and seek comment on ways to streamline the administration of the E-rate program by, among other things, requiring electronic filing of all documents with the E-rate program Administrator, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC); increasing transparency of USAC’s processes; speeding USAC’s review of E-rate applications; simplifying the eligible services list; finding more efficient ways to disburse E-rate funds; addressing unused E-rate funding; and streamlining the E-rate appeals process.In Section VI, we seek comment on several additional issues relating to the E-rate program that have been raised by stakeholders, including issues related to school and library obligations under the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA); identifying rural schools and libraries; changes to the National School Lunch Program; fraud protection measures; use of E-rate supported services for community Wi-Fi hotspots; and procedures for dealing with national emergencies.

In seeking comment on our proposed goals and measures, and on options to modernize E-rate to better align it with these goals, in addition to specific questions posed throughout, we encourage input from Tribal governments and ask generally whether there are any unique circumstances on Tribal lands that would necessitate a different approach.  Similarly, we request comment on whether there are any unique circumstances in insular areas that would necessitate a different approach.

[1] State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), The Broadband Imperative:  Recommendation to Address K-12 Educational Infrastructure Needs, at 10 (rel. May 21, 2012), available at (  last visited July 15, 2013) (SETDA Recommendation).  See generally Charles M. Davidson and Michael J. Santorelli, The Impact of Broadband on Education:  A Study Commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (December 2010) available at  (last visited July 15, 2013).

[2] We use the term “high-capacity broadband” in this NPRM to describe the evolving level of connectivity schools and libraries need as they increasingly adopt new, innovative digital learning strategies.

[3] SETDA, The Broadband Imperative:  Recommendation to Address K-12 Educational Infrastructure Needs, at 10 (rel. May 21, 2012), available at  (last visited July 15, 2013) (SETDA Recommendation).

[4] See U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2001 (2002), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2005, at 4-5, 16 (2006), available at (last visited July 15,  2013).

[5] See id. at 4-5. 

[6] See Information Use Management and Policy Institute, College of Information, Florida State University, Public Libraries and the Internet 2006:  Study Results and Findings, at 7 (2006), available at (last visited July 15, 2013).

[7] See, e.g., Foundation for Excellence in Education, Digital Learning Now! at 11-12 (rel. Dec. 1, 2010), available at (last visited July 15, 2013).

[8] See American Libraries Association, Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2011-2012, American Libraries Magazine, at 41 (rel. summer 2012), available at (last visited July 15, 2013) (ALA Summer 2012 Report).

[9] Letter from Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director, American Library Association, to the Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States, CC Docket 02-6, at 1 (dated July 8, 2013).

[10] Id.

[11] Id. at 2.

[12] Id. at 1.

[13] See Federal Communications Commission, 2010 E-rate Program and Broadband Usage Survey: Report, at 4-5 (Wireline Comp. Bur. 2011), 26 FCC Rcd 1, available at (last visited July 15, 2013) (E-rate Program and Broadband Survey). 

[14] Id. at 2, 9.

[15] See ALA Summer 2012 Report at 23. 

[16] Id. at 23-24.

[17] See The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, ConnectED:  President Obama’s plan for Connecting All Schools to the Digital Age available at (last visited July 15, 2013) (ConnectED Fact Sheet).

[18] Id.

[19] See, e.g., Press Release, Jay Rockefeller, Promises Made, Promises Kept: Rockefeller Program that Expands Internet Access for WV Schools, Libraries Gets Major Boost (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, Statement of NCTA President & CEO Michael Powell Regarding the President’s ConnectED Initiative (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, AT&T Chairman & CEO Randall Stephenson, AT&T Response to President Obama's ConnectED Plan (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, Verizon Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Verizon Response to President Obama’s ConnectED Plan (June 6, 2013) (on file with Commission); Obama Pushes for Higher Speed Broadband in Schools, by Grant Gross, IDG News Service, (June 6, 2013) available at (last visited July 15, 2013) (quoting Comcast’s Sena Fitzmaurice, vice president of government communications); John Chambers, Cisco Statement on White House E-Rate Announcement, Cisco Blog (June 6, 2013, 2:44 PM) available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, Statement of LEAD Commission, Lee Bollinger, Jim Coulter, Margaret Spellings, Jim Steyer, Lead Applauds ConnectED Intiative (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, CEO of NTCA Shirley Bloomfield, NTCA CEO Comments on White House ConnectED Initiative (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, CEO of ISTE Brian Lewis, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Applauds President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, CEO of Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Keith Kruger, ‘Giant Leap” Forward with ConnectED (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, National School Boards Association, NSBA Welcomes President’s Plan to Improve Schools’ Internet Access, (June 6, 2013) available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, American Library Association, ALA welcomes White House call for increased E-rate funding for libraries and schools, (June 6, 2013) available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, Council of Chief State School Officers, CCSSO Statement on ConnectED Initiative Announcement (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, President of Alliance for Excellent Education Gov. Bob Wise, Gov. Bob Wise Comments on President Obama’s “ConnectED” Plan to Provide Schools with High-Speed Internet Access (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Press Release, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Principals Believe Better Internet Access Will Open More Doors (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013).

[20] See Press Release, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, Rockefeller says E-rate Should Expand to Connect More Students to High Speed Broadband (June 6, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013).

[21] See LEAD Commission, LEAD’s National Educational Technology Initiative – a Five Point Plan  available at (last visited July 15, 2013).

[22] Each funding year (FY) runs from July 1 of that year through June 30 of the following year.

[23] See Letter from Mel Blackwell, Vice President, USAC, to Julie Veach, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau (April 22, 2013), available at (last visited July 15, 2013) (2013 USAC Demand Letter). 

[24] See Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, CC Docket No. 96-45, Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 8776, 9054-55 at paras. 529-31 (Universal Service First Report and Order).  As discussed below, the Commission began indexing the cap to inflation in 2010, and in 2003 the Commission provided for unused funds for previous years to be carried forward to subsequent funding years.  See infra paras. 59, 62-63; see also E-rate Funding Requested vs. Available and Disbursed Chart (FY 1998-2011) (Appendix C).

[25] Federal Communications Commission,  Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan, (National Broadband Plan), available at (last visited July 15, 2013); Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism, A National Broadband Plan for our Future, CC Docket No. 02-6, GN Docket No. 09-51, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 18762 (2010) (Schools and Libraries Sixth Report and Order).

[26] Schools and Libraries Sixth Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 18764-65, para. 6.

[27] Id. at 18765-73, paras. 8-19.

[28] Id. at 18773-77, paras. 20-27.

[29] Id. at 18783-87, paras. 41-50.

[30] See Connect America Fund et al., WC Docket No. 10-90 et al., Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 17663, 17681-17683, paras. 48-59 (2011) (USF/ICC Transformation Order); Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization et al., WC Docket Nos. 12-23, 11-42, 03-109, CC Docket No. 96-45, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 6656, 6671-77, paras. 27-43 (2012) (Lifeline Reform Order); Rural Health Care Support Mechanism, WC Docket No. 02-60, Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 16678, 16696-99, paras. 34-43 (2012) (Healthcare Connect Fund Order).

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Dennis T OConnor's comment, July 24, 2013 2:54 PM
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STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming
STEM (Science Technology Education & Mathematics) K-20  education models and innovations
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Is the maker movement putting librarians at risk?

Is the maker movement putting librarians at risk? | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Librarians in the Shawnee Mission School District are making way for “the maker movement,” and some worry where that story is going.

Reading stories, of course, has been a big part of what Jan Bombeck does with children. “Stories, stories and more stories,” she told the school board last month.

The Ray Marsh Elementary School directory lists Bombeck as “librarian” because she is state-certified to be one. But at least four Shawnee Mission grade schools have hired “innovation specialists” to run their libraries when fall classes open.

That’s the language of the maker movement, which seeks to convert once-quiet school spaces — usually in the libraries — into hands-on laboratories of creation and computer-assisted innovation.
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In fact, the word “librarian” didn’t come up in the job description for an innovation specialist at Merriam Park Elementary. “Stories” wasn’t there, either. 

 No mention of “books,” “literature” nor “shelves.”
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The Active Learning Continuum

The Active Learning Continuum | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Ninety-one percent of respondents to a recent CDE survey agreed active learning better prepares students for college and careers than traditional education frameworks. So why is it that it’s more common to see rows of desks facing the front of the room instead of workspaces designed for collaboration and exploration in today’s classrooms? Unfortunately, students can often lack the communication, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills they will need in their careers when they graduate. This paper helps school districts change that outcome. It discusses the benefits and challenges of active learning and offers real-life examples and strategies to help districts make their learning environments more engaging and collaborative.
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Can Schools Get Maker Education Right?

Can Schools Get Maker Education Right? | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
as districts rush to embrace the trend, some key observers are also worried.

Can schools, with their standards, state tests, and bell schedules, maintain the do-it-yourself, only-if-you-want-to ethos that fueled making's popularity in the first place?

"There's an amazing grassroots effort underway to bring the maker movement into education," said Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE magazine and godfather of the modern maker phenomenon. "But if schools don't get the spirit of it, I don't think it will benefit them a whole lot."

Undoubtedly, making is having a moment. Beginning June 17, the White House will host its second National Week of Making. The U.S. Department of Education is supporting efforts to rethink career and technical education through the creation of high school maker spaces. And nonprofit advocacy groups such as Digital Promise and Dougherty's Maker Education Initiative are encouraging districts to champion making inside their schools.

For all the excitement, though, there are also hurdles.
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National Week of Making

National Week of Making | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Makers are developing new solutions and products to pressing challenges, engaging students in hands on, interactive learning of STEM, arts and design and enabling individuals to learn new skills in design, fabrication and manufacturing. This site was created by Makers to support, encourage, promote, and highlight organizations from around the country who are working to create more opportunities for more people of all ages to make. This was inspired by President’s call to action to “lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.”
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Dancing with Robots

Well before the Great Recession, middle class Americans questioned the ability of the public sector to adapt to the wrenching forces re-shaping society. And as we’ve begun to see a “new economic normal,” many Americans are left wondering if anyone or any institution can help them, making it imperative that both parties—but especially the self-identified party of government—re-think their 20th century orthodoxies. With this report Third Way is continuing NEXT—a series of in-depth commissioned research papers that look at the economic trends that will shape policy over the coming decades. In particular, we’re bringing this deeper, more provocative academic work to bear on what we see as the central domestic policy challenge of the 21st century: how to ensure American middle class prosperity and individual success in an era of everintensifying globalization and technological upheaval. It’s the defining question of our time, and one that as a country we’ve yet to answer. Each of the papers we commission over the next several years will take a deeper dive into one aspect of middle class prosperity—such as education, retirement, achievement, and the safety net. Our aim is to challenge, and ultimately change, some of the prevailing assumptions that routinely define, and often constrain, Democratic and progressive economic and social policy debates. And by doing that, we’ll be able to help push the conversation towards a new, more modern understanding of America’s middle class challenges—and spur fresh ideas for a new era. In Dancing with Robots, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane make a compelling case that the hollowing out of middle class jobs in America has as much to do with the technology revolution and computerization of tasks as with global pressures like China. In so doing, they predict what the future of work will be in America and what it will take for the middle class to succeed. The collapse of the once substantial middle class job picture has begun a robust debate among those who argue that it has its roots in policy versus those who argue that it has its roots in structural changes in the economy. Levy and Murnane delve deeply into structural economic changes brought about by technology. These two pioneers in the field (Murnane at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and Levy at MIT) argue that “the human labor market will center on three kinds of work: solving unstructured problems, working with new information, and carrying out non-routine manual tasks.” The bulk of the rest of the work will be done by computers with some work reserved for low wage workers abroad. They argue that the future success of the middle class rests on the nation’s ability “to sharply increase the fraction of American children with the foundational skills needed to develop ...
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Societal implications
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Under Pressure: New technique could make large, flexible solar panels more feasible — Eberly College of Science

Under Pressure: New technique could make large, flexible solar panels more feasible — Eberly College of Science | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
A new, high-pressure technique may allow the production of huge sheets of thin-film silicon semiconductors at low temperatures in simple reactors at a fraction of the size and cost of current technology. A paper describing the research by scientists at Penn State University appears May 13, 2016 in the journal Advanced Materials.
"We have developed a new, high-pressure, plasma-free approach to creating large-area, thin-film semiconductors," said John Badding, professor of chemistry, physics, and materials science and engineering at Penn State and the leader of the research team. "By putting the process under high pressure, our new technique could make it less expensive and easier to create the large, flexible semiconductors that are used in flat-panel monitors and solar cells and are the second most commercially important semiconductors."

Thin-film silicon semiconductors typically are made by the process of chemical vapor deposition, in which silane -- a gas composed of silicon and hydrogen -- undergoes a chemical reaction to deposit the silicon and hydrogen atoms in a thin layer to coat a surface. To create a functioning semiconductor, the chemical reaction that deposits the silicon onto the surface must happen at a low enough temperature so that the hydrogen atoms are incorporated into the coating rather than being driven off like steam from boiling water. With current technology, this low temperature is achieved by creating plasma -- a state of matter similar to a gas made up of ions and free electrons -- in a large volume of gas at low pressure. Massive and expensive reactors so large that they are difficult to ship by air are needed to generate the plasma and to accommodate the large volume of gas required.
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How Teens Benefit From Reading About the Struggles of Scientists

How Teens Benefit From Reading About the Struggles of Scientists | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
What kind of people can become scientists?  When a group of researchers posed that question to ninth- and 10th-graders, almost every student gave empowering responses, such as “People who work hard” or “Anyone who seems interested in the field of science.”

But despite these generalized beliefs, many of these same students struggled to imagine themselves as scientists, citing concerns such as “I’m not good at science” and “Even if I work hard, I will not do well.”

It’s understandable that students might find imagining themselves as scientists a stretch — great achievements in science get far more attention than the failed experiments, so it’s easy to see a scientist’s work as stemming from an innate talent. Additionally, several science fields have a long way to go to be more inclusive of women and underrepresented minorities.  

But for high school students, learning more about some of the personal and intellectual struggles of scientists can help students feel more motivated to learn science. Researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University and the University of Washington designed an intervention to “confront students’ beliefs that scientific achievement reflects ability rather than effort by exposing students to stories of how accomplished scientists struggled and overcame challenges in their scientific endeavors.”

During the study, the students read one of three types of stories about Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Michael Faraday:

Intellectual struggle stories: stories about how scientists “struggled intellectually,” such as making mistakes while tackling a scientific problem and learning from these setbacks.
Life struggle stories: stories about how scientists struggled in their personal lives, such as persevering in the face of poverty or lack of family support.
Achievement stories: stories about how scientists made great discoveries, without any discussion of concurrent challenges.
Researchers found that students who heard
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ASCD Express 11.17 - How to Feed Your Makers

Margaret Koenig 

"Can we just keep working on this through recess?" If you are a teacher who has integrated making into your instruction, hearing that phrase from students isn't rare at all.
Making (also known as "tinkering" and "hacking") has been a movement for many years, but one only recently embraced by the education community. Makers build something new, often out of repurposed materials, with the intention of solving problems or expressing themselves in a creative way. In education, giving students the opportunity to design and build something as an alternative to completing a worksheet or book report lights a fire within them, no matter their age.
Science Hacks
Recently, after teaching a lesson on Newton's laws of motion and basic forces, I challenged my 5th grade students to create a marble run using materials from our school makerspace. To engage them even more, I timed the students' marble runs. This time, the slowest moving marble run won the design competition. This twist—incorporating friction to slow down the marble—added an extra layer of challenge and engagement. After all, how often do we value being the slowest?
As students were planning their initial designs, most were counting on using cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper rolls for the "track." Because our makerspace is mainly stocked by donations from students' families, we sometimes run short on materials. This was the case for the paper tubes—there were none in stock! My students had to come up with more creative ways to create a high friction track for their marbles. Many used bubble wrap, crumpled aluminum foil, or fabric. One group even used toothpicks as spikes to create friction.
After the students finished building their tracks and timing the runs, I asked them to reflect on the evolution of their designs. In most cases, the finished products bore very little resemblance to the original designs. As the students built, they tested, which allowed them to evaluate and redesign as they went. What better way to integrate physics content, collaboration, conservation (through upcycling materials), and the engineering design process than to make something in school?
Reading Hacks
Making in schools is by no means limited to science content. In fact,

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From STEM to STEAM: What Works, Exemplary Practices, Schools, and Models

From STEM to STEAM: What Works, Exemplary Practices, Schools, and Models | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Driving Question: What makes a STEM School

What makes a STEM school? That is the question that is most often asked. I have literally sat on so many panels (K12,Higher Ed, political, policy, and industry), participated in meetings from the White House to the schoolhouse, been active in research think tanks and included in numerous case studies to define what STEM is and what makes a STEM school and we are still asking this question.  Although some are attempting to answer this question by justifying the literal acronym for the taxonomy of STEM, I believe this is too simplistic and takes away from the true mission and meaning of STEM.

Because this blog gives me the chance, I will use my 10 years as a highly successful, inclusive, whole STEM school practitioner to present my answer to this question. I have told the beginning of this story thousands of times, but it bares repeating now as another STEM story is filling the the ears of some and attempting a new, exclusive definition in an attempt to hoist selective STEM schools as the Gold Standard for STEM.  As a passionate STEM proponent for ALL I take issue with this attempt to define STEM as good only for the affluent and already successful student. This post will explain why.


In 2006, the initial STEM campaign was launched in Texas as well as in a few other States to address the shortage of STEM workers entering into the workforce. The message delivered expressed a dire shortage of minority and underrepresented workers needed to close the STEM gap. Our charge as pioneer STEM leaders and educators was simple, yet daunting: to get underrepresented students to take more science, technology, engineering, and math courses in order to help expose them to STEM curriculum and develop an interest and desire to pursue STEM careers and STEM college pathways.  In fact, in order to be a designated a State STEM school in the few States that had designations, one had to meet qualifying indicators to serve a majority of underrepresented students that qualified as low socioeconomic status and have an inclusive open enrollment school with no selective criteria to attend. We had our mission and for the most part implementation was left to individual schools how best to do this.

As the architect of this new inclusive whole Texas STEM (TSTEM) school design, I needed to attract underrepresented students who for the most part were not successful in math and science, had little interest in STEM to leave their current school. They had to join this new STEM school to take more math and science courses, close the achievement gap, have student success where there had been none before, and continue to meet the higher operating standards of success with good attendance, less discipline, high graduation rates, and increased high-stakes student test scores.  As an experienced high school principal, I knew there was only way to make this happen and that was to redesign the entire STEM high school concept to meet all these needs and make it truly an inclusive whole STEM school.

With help, I designed, implemented and opened one of the first 31 STEM schools in Texas. Little did I know then that there were only a few hundred STEM schools across the country at that time and very few schools, if any to model STEM after. This STEM school redesigning phase shaped my whole definition of STEM and still drives my passion of STEM to this day.


How was I going to find underrepresented students who had not been successful in math and science to s school that would ask them to take more math and science? This was the crux of the challenge. Being one of the first STEM schools in the country, I knew we had to have a story that would be a model for others. That part was easy. We were going to take all students without any selection criteria, give them more science, technology, engineering, math, and they were going to be successful.

More wasn’t enough. As part of my redesign efforts, I had to answer a nagging question. Why were these students for the most part unsuccessful in math and science,  especially with the countless hours and attempts at interventions provided in their traditional schools? The traditional direct teach model of instruction was part of the culprit. Many of these students were either bored, lost, or disengaged from lecture “sit and get” and the worksheets that followed.  Our answer was to change how we taught and helped these students learn not only more math and science, but math and science that was more rigorous. The answer came in a synthesis of practices which provide a new model of instruction and other ingredients that would change how the students learned.

Project-Based Learning. The first redesign STEM was in pedagogy from traditional direct teach to Project Based Learning. Curriculum would be delivered in teacher-made authentic projects designed with students’ interests at the core of their inquiry. These projects grouped students to work and learn collaboratively. Projects were active, hands-on learning experiences that not only provided the required knowledge, but also the opportunities for the application of that knowledge to solve authentic problems. This 100% PBL implementation would provide a different way of  learning for each student in an average of 50 projects a year.
21st Century Essential Skills. After further questioning STEM industry executives asking “What makes a person successful in today’s organizations?”, I found that  the 21st Century “ESSENTIAL” skills of written and oral communication, collaboration, critical thinking/problem solving, and creativity/self efficacy/agency were almost unanimous nominees as the most important qualities of a successful employee. I was told by industry leader after leader, “We will teach them what they need to know about our company and products. We cannot teach them these real essential skills when they come to us.”
I concluded A STEM school must incorporate all of these 21st century essential skills to be designed, implemented, and assessed in units of learning. I ensured that we incorporated these essential 21st century skills in every project so as to prepare students for the real world by implementing these essential learning outcomes in every project. These outcomes were easily measured using a created rubric for each outcome as well as the observable student’s progress in public speaking skills, direct ownership of each project, and the cooperation within each group of students to ensure all group members were successful as well as each student’s voice in choice was heard in the end products.

A Learning First Schedule. A critical STEM redesign change was the easiest to communicate with the addition of rigorous science, technology, engineering, and math courses for all students. What was not easy was implementation of additional classes within the confines of a school day and the approved district school calendar while determining the PBL scheduling and how that would work in an all PBL environment.
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Statewide Grant Program Will Spread Robotics Education to More Indiana Elementary Schools

Statewide Grant Program Will Spread Robotics Education to More Indiana Elementary Schools | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |

A statewide grant program will give students the opportunity to learn about robotics both inside and outside the classroom.

Over the next two years, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development will put $300,000 in General Assembly career and technical education funds toward the endeavor in the heavy manufacturing state. And the department, along with a number of organizations — including the TechPoint Foundation for Youth, the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (REC), VEX Robotics, Project Lead the Way and NASA — are starting more robotics competitions in Indiana, and exposing students to robotics in their classes.

The reason? Indiana needs more skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and robotics' competitions provide a great opportunity for students to learn teamwork and collaboration skills that will be useful in their future careers, said Dennis Wimer, associate chief operating officer at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

For the 2016-17 school year, 400 elementary schools across the state will be able to apply for grants that will cover teacher training, robotics kits, team registration fees for competitions and educational materials for the classroom. The next year, 400 schools will be able to apply for grants as well, and organizers plan to expand their efforts to middle and high school in subsequent years.

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MakerBot Thingiverse

MakerBot Thingiverse | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |

Thingiverse is a universe of things. Download our files and build them with your lasercutter, 3D printer, or CNC.

What is Thingiverse? MakerBot's Thingiverse is a thriving design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things. As the world's largest 3D printing community, we believe that everyone should be encouraged to create and remix 3D things, no matter their technical expertise or previous experience. In the spirit of maintaining an open platform, all designs are encouraged to be licensed under a Creative Commons license, meaning that anyone can use or alter any design.

Gordon Dahlby's insight:
Sponsored 3D object idea spot, but grab and print isn't a great value-add for learning.
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12 Inspiring Women In Data Science, Big Data - InformationWeek

12 Inspiring Women In Data Science, Big Data   - InformationWeek | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Women make up half the population, yet it's been well documented that they don't come close to parity in STEM fields. Could the rise of big data and data science offer women a clearer path to success in technology?
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Here Are The 6 Most Important Tech Trends According to Alphabet/Google's Eric Schmidt

Here Are The 6 Most Important Tech Trends According to Alphabet/Google's Eric Schmidt | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent, Alphabet, has spent his entire career predicting how technology can change the world. While traveling the globe as essentially the company’s global ambassador, meeting with world leaders and giving talks, he isn’t slowing down on espousing about what he says are the most important future technologies.

Schmidt laid out six game changing technologies, or moonshots, as he called them, that he says will improve important parts of society on Monday. Thousands of investors and business executives filled a ballroom in Los Angeles at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference to hear him speak.
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The Power of Curiosity

The Power of Curiosity | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Research shows when people are curious about something, not only do they learn better, they learn more. It should come as no surprise, then, that inquiry-based learning is proving to be an effective education model. Inquiry-based learning occurs when students discover and construct information with the teacher’s guidance. It is a learner-centered model that arouses students’ curiosity and motivates them to seek their own answers. Increasingly, technology is the foundation of an effective inquiry-based lesson. Download this Center for Digital Education paper to learn more about inquiry-based learning and how you can support this model in your classrooms. The paper also offers sample lesson plans that draw upon inquiry-based strategies with the integration of technology.
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Brit Morin: Inspiring Creativity with Great Content [Entire Talk] | Stanford eCorner

Brit Morin: Inspiring Creativity with Great Content [Entire Talk] | Stanford eCorner | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Brit Morin, founder and CEO of Brit + Co, describes her path and motivation for launching a platform that aims to inspire women and girls to be creative through compelling content such as videos, online classes and do-it-yourself kits. Morin explains how creativity is sparked by rekindling that playful spirit from our youth and stems from the primal instinct to make things.
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Maker Promise

Maker Promise | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
In March 2016, Digital Promise and Maker Ed issued a call-to-action for school leaders around the country to commit to growing the next generation of American makers, by committing to dedicate a space, designate a champion, and display the results of maker education.
School leaders across the country answered the call.
Over 1,400 schools representing one million students in all
50 states
signed the Maker Promise.

These schools are leading the movement to harness new digital design and production abilities to unleash students’ passion, creativity, and capacity to make. But it doesn’t stop with them.

You can join this movement by signing the Maker Promise today.
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Students on STEM | Change the Equation

Students on STEM | Change the Equation | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
More Hands-on, Real-World ExperiencesA new survey of American teenagers from the Amgen Foundation and Change the Equation finds that teens like science and would welcome the opportunity to do more engaging, hands-on science in school.  Yet the survey also reveals that teens lack access to real-world science experiences, out-of-school opportunities, and professional mentors, which is limiting their chances to pursue science any further.
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The Maker Movement Isn't Just About Making and Electronics: EdSurge Talks to MIT's Mitch Resnick

The Maker Movement Isn't Just About Making and Electronics: EdSurge Talks to MIT's Mitch Resnick | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Mitchel Resnick (or Mitch, for short) knows his making—from a lot of different angles. And he’s not too bought into the whole “electronics and gadgets” side of the maker movement.

Resnick has been in this business for more than 30 years, and it’s safe to say that he’s seen the maker movement—and the state of STEM education, in general—go through its phases, its ups and downs. He’s currently the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, where he and his team have developed products familiar to many a science educator: the "programmable brick" technology that inspired the LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit, and Scratch, an online computing environment for students to learn about computer science.

It's not the media or materials, but what you do with it.
Mitch Resnick, MIT Professor and head of Lifelong Kindergarten group
Is making something that every school should be doing—and are all interpretations of “making” of equitable value? EdSurge sat down with Resnick in his office at the MIT Media Lab to learn more, and to find out how he and his team are working to bring more creativity into the learning process.

E: Thanks for sitting down with us, Mitch. Let’s start off with a big question: When you have so many students in existence… how do you work with so many different types of learners?

A: Rather than trying to think how we educate all of these students, I think "how can we create opportunities for learning?" The spaces, the technologies that support everyone having rich learning experiences? Of course, everyone is going to have different pathways to learning, so you have to be aware that one size doesn't fit all.
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Get Involved - National Week of Making

Get Involved

There are many different ways that you can get involved and participate in the run up to and during the Week of Making!

Tell your Story as a Maker, Maker Educator or Maker Advocate

Are you a Maker with an innovative project or an interesting story? Do you know someone who has been an amazing advocate for supporting the Maker community in your city or town? If so, we want to get to know him/her. In the run up to the Week of Making, we’ll be featuring profiles of incredible Makers, Maker Educators and Maker Advocates across the U.S. on the Week of Making site.

To tell your story, submit a profile here.

Host an Event

Whether you’re one person, a maker space, community center, university, company or other organization, you can organize an event during the week and invite others in your community to participate. The event can be big or small, for students or adults, or both. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re having fun and making something! Make sure submit your event to this site here, so others can learn about it.

If you need some ideas, below is a snapshot of amazing events that took place throughout the country in 2015:

East Central High School (San Antonio, TX) offered an electronics and hardware programming course.
Muncie Public Library (Muncie IN) hosted a series of courses focused on designing, prototyping, and building things that fly.
Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) organized iDesign student conferences to engage 6th-9th graders in designing and creating digital games.
The Alamance Makers Guild (Burlington, NC) hosted the Burlington Makeover Takeover, a free community celebration where Makers shared their projects, from wood turning to upcycled toys.
To get your event noticed, submit it here.

Attend an Event

Find an event in your community that you’re interested in and participate! Extra brownie points if you bring friends or family members with you. To check out the events near you, visit here.
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ASCD Express  What's All the Fuss About Coding?

When I was a young musician learning to play the vibraphone, I remember listening to Milt Jackson and thinking I could never make an instrument sing like he did. While I never did reach his level of genius, I did become proficient enough to earn a master's degree in music performance and play a concerto as a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony (ironically, the piece was originally written for Milt Jackson).
Likewise, people who don't know how to code see a complicated process that must surely be beyond their abilities. They think, "I could never design and write the code for an iPhone app." True: there are some genius programmers. But you don't need to be a genius to program.
So why should teachers take valuable time away from math and science instruction to involve their students in coding? Simply put, coding applies math and science to the creation of something tangible and useful. It empowers students to move from passive recipients and consumers of learning to true producers of content. Coding puts students in control of their devices.
Hour of Code, Code Academy,—many resources to support more coding in the classroom exist. As teachers, where should you start? Here are some tips.
Gordon Dahlby's insight:
Simply put, coding applies math and science to the creation of something tangible and useful. It empowers students to move from passive recipients and consumers of learning to true producers of content. Coding puts students in control of their devices.

No...not that simple, IMHO, but is simply put.
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MakeHers Report

MakeHers Report | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
New Research Findings: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology Through Making
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Alternative pathways: Perks, but there also many pitfalls - eCampus News

Alternative pathways: Perks, but there also many pitfalls - eCampus News | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Career and Technical Education (CTE), competency-based learning, digital badging, credentialing, and coding bootcamps are becoming some of the fastest-growing, and oft-discussed, alternative pathways for learning in higher education—mainly due to the promise of entry in today’s increasingly selective job market. But do these non-traditional on-ramps to postsecondary ed always lead to successful implementations within institutions; and are students really getting their investments’ worth?

In our recent Symposium, two higher education experts—one specializing in education research and one in policy analysis—discuss the overarching benefits of alternative higher-ed pathways, as well as the roadblocks and pitfalls to their success.

Though both agree that non-traditional learning pathways are needed for today’s diverse student body seeking entry into the job market, Alana Dunagan, higher education researcher at the Clayton Christensen Institute discusses traditional programs’ problems in implementation and adaptation of multiple career-based pathways.
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Eleven @MinecraftEDU Educators To Follow | @Microsoft_EDU · TeacherCast Educational Broadcasting Network by Jeffrey Bradbury

Eleven @MinecraftEDU Educators To Follow | @Microsoft_EDU · TeacherCast Educational Broadcasting Network by Jeffrey Bradbury | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |

Here are 11 educator resources to follow on twitter if you are interested in Minecraft Education. |

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Ask a Scientist: When Are Children Ready to Learn Abstract Math?

Ask a Scientist: When Are Children Ready to Learn Abstract Math? | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Zane Wubbena is a doctoral candidate in education at Texas State University. He studies cognition as it relates to early mathematics. As a former special education teacher, Wubbena wanted to know how brain development affected students' ability to comprehend the math curriculum for their grade level. The conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.

What led you to be interested in studying early-childhood math?

I was troubled by this problem that I found in almost every grade.

For example, in basic addition and subtraction problems, [teachers would ] maybe hand out a sheet and have children work through these addition and subtraction problems without really having a background into each child and whether or not they have developed the concrete skills to be able to do more abstract reasoning.

Do they have one-to-one correspondence where they understand that every time I say if I touch the number 1, this means 1? [Do they know] when I hold two marbles in my hand that means there are two marbles? From 1 to 9, are they able to understand that 1 comes before 2, and 3 comes after 2?

That led me to my research question for the study I conducted: How can we ensure that the expectations we place on children are appropriate for each child at that grade level?

Please explain how your experiment worked.

I wanted to look at 1st grade children. That's a very pivotal year when kids are really expected to become fluent in mathematics, specifically addition and subtraction. Fluency is really indicative of skill mastery, being able to master something or to suggest that I'm ready to move on to more complex mathematical operations.
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NISE announces STEM certification, degree programs

NISE announces STEM certification, degree programs | STEM Education models and innovations with Gaming |
Through a partnership with American College of Education, teachers earning the National Certificate for STEM Teaching with NISE gain access to an affordable, accelerated master’s degree in STEM Leadership
As science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs continue to grow, the U.S. Department of Education has set a priority to increase the number of students and teachers who are proficient in these fields.

Yet, as school districts launch STEM schools and programs, there has been no easy way to certify that they are actually prepared to teach STEM — until now. Accelerate Learning has announced the formation of the National Institute for STEM Education (NISE).

Headquartered in Houston, NISE was conceived by practicing educators and is based on thousands of hours of research, professional development, curriculum design and educational leadership. Using an online learning platform and unique digital portfolio, NISE offers a STEM certification program for campuses and districts, as well as teachers. Through the self-paced, competency-based programs, participants can learn and apply their proficiency in the key domains of STEM teaching that are essential to creating effective classrooms that increase student achievement.

For campuses and districts, the program leading to the National Certificate for STEM Excellence helps participants develop an in-depth understanding of what it takes to transform into a STEM campus or district of excellence. The process includes building leadership capacity, certifying teachers, validating authenticity through observation and learning through data-driven professional development.

For teachers and educators, it certifies that individuals are incorporating the 15 key teacher actions necessary to create a STEM classroom of excellence. Participants are guided by academic coaches to ensure the proper support for successful completion of the program and their portfolio artifacts, which demonstrate proficiency in the 15 action areas.
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