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Showing posts with label stations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stations. Show all posts

Back To School Activities For Your Science and STEM Class...In or Out of School

This summer has me thinking a lot about what next year might look like, and I am sure that some of my teacher friends out there are thinking the same thing. I guess you might say I am trying to piece it all together. I am headed back to my school this year, which makes me a bit nervous with the great unknown and trying to find ways to connect to new students and new requirements for learning. With a little creativity and resourcefulness, activities and lessons that you have used in your toolkit each year, can be reworked to utilize whether we are at school working individually or distance learning once again.


For some of us piecing things together, maybe changing schools...changing grade levels...starting off a new year is never easy. Let's just add COVID and the great unknown. I believe that the most important thing you can do right away is create fun engaging hands on opportunities for our students. This will certainly allow you to gauge right away which of your students are leaders and in what way, which students are more shy and reserved and which ones might struggle with challenges and activities as we try to get them to learn the skills we need to be resilient in a time of uncertainty!

Here are some great go to's for you to utilize in the first two weeks of school...before we get started let's discuss supplies and distribution, which will need to look different. 

What to do about supplies?
Now, you might be asking, what if the kids are in school and they can't share supplies? My goal is to create trays or even paper bags with supplies in or on the day before and set them in a grade level large tub. Once finished with the supplies, I would collect by walking around with the tub and having them drop it into the big bucket. When cleaning I will wear gloves and follow the state/district protocol for washing. This method of dropping the supplies into a bucket you walk around with assures no contact. :( 

Here is my plan for supply distribution:

In school: students will be given a tray of supplies such as straws, cardboard, toilet paper tubes, card stock. They will create something out of the supplies given. If they need supplies: a plastic tray will be used to bring an individual what they need, they get the item from the bucket/tray/tub. Once they are finished, go around with a large bucket to collect. Students drop their used items in the bucket, with no contact. Then we sanitize the the bucket/tray/tub when time allows. This allows us to use items quicker than the 48 hours of set aside time.  

At home: items are sent home with the group that is virtual on the day they are in school in a brown paper bag (this is recyclable and cheaper than plastic). When home, they create the assigned task/challenge and then share in your class meet or in flipgrid in video form for assessment.  Most items will be allowed to stay home and to be kept, however items that need to be returned, will be brought back to school and when students arrive back, a tub will be set out for drop off in their classrooms or when they come back to science. I will then place it off to the side for 48 hours, clean and reuse the materials or place them back in my FOSS kits. 

Here are my back to school go to's that can be done one on one in class or at home:
1. Saving Sam (in a group or even alone...)

I am sure you might have seen Saving Sam. The little gummy worm that needs help from drowning. It is a great team building activity that I use for my fourth graders. There are some great free resources on TPT for that activity. 

However, this year I am using my Saving Sam extensions so that I can build on the one activity and pose another. What if we can't save Sam together or our students are at home doing virtual learning?  Let's save Sam with our families...or let's save Sam on our own. This can be done by creating an aluminum foil boat, zip line, or a sun protector out of recyclables or blocks that can be collected and washed. Give a paper Sam to them even though the gummy worm is tasty and fun...We choose from Boat Regatta, Mountain Retreat and Sun Protector. We call them Sam's Extended Adventures! You can find it here.  

2.  School Rules STEM (one that can be done alone)

 This is a great way for our kiddos to review school rules, either in school or at home virtually. You might have seen your students unsure of how to follow Google or Zoom Meets correctly and so you probably had to create some new rules. As we find ways to problem solve some of the issues that came up (mine were: they didn't show up each week, they didn't do quality work at times, they didn't do an activity or show their work, they sent an email sharing they didn't get it then you send them a how to video and they still don't do it. Now, our district is looking at a Group A/B model where group A comes in while B is virtual for four days then flip flops with B. We will need to review those rules as we move forward. Why not have students work on a STEM model representing the rules that we have in place as we move forward. 

Ideas that might look different this year: 

  • walking in the halls
  • mask wearing
  • social distancing
  • bathroom use
  • washing hands
  • playing outside
  • lining up
  • going to specialists
  • eating lunch
  • outdoor rules
  • touching our faces

3. Playground Creations (another STEM challenge that can be alone at school or at home)

If you are like me, you might not be seeing your students allowed to play on the playground equipment come fall...why not have your students find a creative solution/invention for no contact playground fun! Games, activities, and events may need a little modification, what a perfect opportunity to not only teach what modifications and contraints are, they surely know now what that means, they can relate. We can also do a great job with this by teaching positive growth mindset. We all want things to go back to "normal", but that isn't realistic at the moment. So, how can we all push through, be positive, and solve problems? 

Lesson kick start: 

1. Have students review why it is important to stay healthy. What does that have to look like and why.
2. What rules are in place that are different than last year?
3. How can we find new ways to have fun while social distancing?
4. Generate possible game and playground ideas. Hula Hoops? Sidewalk chalk areas? Walking paths? Juggling? Painted games on the black top (in line with six feet lines to follow)...can students then create a STEM project that helps students remember the new school rules?

4. Cup stacking challenge (when life may be somewhat normal again)
This has always been a favorite go to...when life allows us to be working closer together....Using 6 Dixie cups, one rubber band, and a piece of string for everyone in the group is a perfect way to have your students as a group to problem solve and work as a team. I use this activity with my fifth graders to address how our science labs and stations work as a group. They must formulate a list as a class first, so we can discuss what is essential for our labs to be successful. Some of our BIG take aways are typically: we must work together, we must communicate in a positive  manner, we must do our part, we must listen respectfully to everyone. I focus on our school's core values as well and what that must look like.

Need resources for Science and STEM? Check out these helpful back to school packs:

5. A challenge for you...Find something that helps you get ready for fall...

Not sure yet how to even navigate for next year? We all need to give ourselves a little boost! Join me for one last idea for fall helping the Whole Teacher as we navigate our way together! My friends and I invite you to join us for the Whole Teacher EclecticCon. This virtual conference of 50+ sessions includes 30 hours of training starting July 27th. Click here to learn more. Join us Carol from Teachers are Terrific, Renee from Science School Yard, Meredith from Momgineer, Sarah from Science and STEM Team, and Natasha from Vivify as we present along with over 50 presenters as we share more tips and tricks that are puzzling all of us! We are better together!

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6 Ways To Fit Science Into Your Day

Trying to teach intermediate students science isn’t always easy. There are a lot of supplies to often set up and the concepts at times are much harder to explain. Often, science can even get put on the back burner. I am asked by other educators how do I find that extra time that is needed to give quality science curriculum? So, I want to share with you today a few quick tips to finding that time and making it count!

Targeting Standards

1.      Make sure that you are pinpointing the exact standard that you want to cover. whether it is 
NGSS or your districts requirements. Utilize the NGSS cross cutting strategies within their plans. 
That is a great guide to how you can even add the required concepts within your reading and writing 

Non-Fiction Science Connections

2.      Non-fiction reading in common core and in NGSS cross cutting … is a perfect way to add 
science concepts. For example, having a hard time fitting in ecosystems or food chains because the 
supplies needed seem a little out of reach? Then, a non fiction book and science/reading station is a 
perfect way to add a concept that seems out of reach. I purposely utilize Epic books which has a ton 
of great non-fiction science themed books that are perfect for your reading lesson. They even have a 
variety that can be read to students in order for you to differentiate learning. 

Tie that in with digital resources and are set to go! Digital resources come in so many different 
options. From Boom Cards to Google Slides it also allows for teachers to find ways to add science 
into their day! 

Science Stations in Reading/Writing

3.      Science Stations during your reading/writing block is another way to use your time wisely. If 
you incorporate a non fiction book along with a small experiment that has easy to follow step by step 
directions, this is another way to use your time wisely. Allowing students to share their learning with 
an app or internet tool is way to assess for understanding. My new go to for this is flipgrid. 

I set up a class grid, allow for students to go there for my pre-recorded instructions that I video for 
them, or you can even insert a youtube video  showing an experiment that you find online. If you just 
want them to learn more background knowledge about a science topic allow for that video to be 
inserted on flipgrid as well! Many of my colleagues are able to utilize google classroom which I wish 
I was able to use as well. Our district required their own paid version to house lessons in, but another 
great way to add science lessons in an app for them to utilize can be stored in google classroom.

Flipped Lessons

4. Flipped lessons are my new favorite way to teach science after going virtual this year. A flipped       lesson allows you to prerecord a lesson, a concept, and/or background information that you would have used class time for. As students view the video before class, they are getting the needed information that you would have used class time for. This frees up time for you to do demonstrations and experiments and not use the time in class to do that. I still need to review the concepts for friends that didn’t watch ahead of time, but if a student misses out on the experiment, because now they must first watch the video and do the follow-up questions, they don’t want to miss the “fun” stuff. The amount of students not watching the prerecorded lessons declines.  I also find that if I record my demonstration then the students that miss out can now see that or review if they missed something.
You might be saying that is  a lot of time that is used to create those videos, but once you have them and you label them, you are set for years to come. I use screen-cast-omatic. There are other video sites such as screencastify that work perfectly well, too.  Not sure you can know what to say on your video? Use a teleprompter program on your computer and read what you would like to say. you can see how I do that in my video link here:

Supply Short Cuts and Quick Lessons

5. Find lessons, that are already made for you. If you have a kit such as FOSS, which we use, bag up the lessons for easy year after year accessibility. When we went into quarantine mode, it was a bit easier for me to grab my lessons out of the box, because they were all labeled and prepackaged. I put mine in plastic ziplocked baggies and label them with permanent markers and place them in the kit along with the sheets I used for the lessons if I utilized printed versions. If you have no kits, then make sure that you find a storage system that works best for you. I tub my kindergarten lessons along with the picture books and supplies I even use for it. This really does save a ton of time. If you don’t already do that then you will thank me!

Boom Learning Decks

6.Boom learning decks are another go to for easily checking my students for understanding! I create decks that focus on my big ideas. I can give my students a boom deck right after I teach conductors and insulators to see if they got my lesson and the concept I was teaching.   It allow my students immediate feedback to their learning and if you utilize the data you can use it for grading purposes.

Take a look at these science boom decks that can make adding science to your day a little bit easier!
Science School Yard Science Boom Decks

I hope you can find ways to add science to your busy day...your kids will thank you!

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Leap Year STEM

In STEM club this week, we wanted to find a way to add some Leap Year Science and engineering to our hour. The funny thing is that no one really knew why leap year even exists. We generated some great ideas and then we headed over to Mystery Doug to find out the answers. We followed up with some great origami inspirations, which was taught by a student led team... and we finished it up with creating a game that needed to incorporate our frog in some way.

The criteria and constraints:

  • the frog had to be part of the game
  • you only have 15 minutes to prepare the game 
  • the game must have written rules
  • the frog doesn't have to jump as part of the game
  • you must use what you see around the room as the supplies for the game

The science components that we included in day two of our STEM club Leap Frog Theme was to create a controlled experiment using our frogs.

We tested the following variables:

  1. Does the size of the frog make the frog hop farther?
  2. Does the type of paper used determine how far our frog jumps?
  3. Does where we fold the bottom affect how far the frog jumps?
  4. Does how/where we push on the back of the frog affect how far our frog jumps?
Mystery Doug has a great video all about Leap Year, which is a perfect springboard for your leapfrog lessons in science! Find the Mystery Doug video here. 

Leap Frog Leap Year Science and STEM Pack Found HERE.
I am hoppy that you joined me here in the Science School Yard! Happy February 29th!
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Water Cycle Ideas and Diorama Freebie

Sometimes it's nice to just take a break from the experiments and all the set up of activities in order to stop and make connections in a completely different way. Water is essential for life on earth and learning about the water cycle through a diorama is just the way to show what they know. Follow this simple activity and grab your free resource at the end!

Four Easy Steps to the Water Cycle Connection!

Step 1:

Gather your materials. All you need is:

  • paper: green (grass/land), brown (the ground/earth), yellow (sun), blue (water and rain), white (clouds and snow)
  • a box such as a shoe box...I use empty juice box boxes that we have at school for breakfast and after school classes
  • string or fish line to hand the clouds or precipitation
  • cotton balls if you want them to make puffy clouds
  • Sheets from my Water Cycle Freebie! Would love for you to rate it if you like it:)
Step 2: 

I like to start off by teaching about the water cycle. I use a great video linked below.

When finished I have them learn the six major words we want to see in the diorama. I have hand motions to help with those kinesthetic thinkers. 
  1. accumulation (hands move around in a circle with fingers down)
  2. evaporation(fingers wiggle up toward sky)
  3. condensation (hands go together to form a cloud shape, hands folded together)
  4. precipitation (fingers wiggle down)
  5. run off (fingers flow from high spot to low spot)
  6. ground water (fingers are moving down as if playing a piano)

Now...a bit of a trick question...which word starts the water cycle? There is no beginning or end! So as you teach it pick one and make sure that you go in order 1-4 from above. There is an order to it. 

Step 3:

Learning the vocabulary is very important so we then work on our vocabulary sheets after playing a game. 
How to play the game:
  1.  Gather blue cubes... a ton they signify precipitation/rain
  2. make cloud finger puppets

Literally, the best game to see the water cycle in action. We have some kids have their hands be the clouds with the finger puppet clouds on. The other kids gather the cubes placed on the ground. It is their job to pick them up and put them into clouds hands. They will fall. You now have the four key words. As they pick up it is evaporation, in clouds condensation, falling is precipitation, and on the ground accumulation.

Step 4: 

Diorama time! I assign numbers on each table. 1's do accumulation, 2's do condensation, 3's do precipitation, and 4's do run off. We then have them finish and then work on something off of this list...sun, evaporation with arrows, labeling and gluing. This helps everyone focus and be part of the team effort!

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Bird Beak Stations

Image result for beaks picture book

Each year, I pull out my bird beak stations, and each year I love watching my first graders as they learn hands on how birds have different beaks that allow them to survive in the habitat they live in.

I love starting off this lesson by asking them to tell me what makes a bird a bird. We create an anchor chart that has a nest of great words including birds ... have 2 legs, have wings, have feathers, lay eggs, have beaks, fly, have two eyes.

I then share the book Beaks by Robin Brickman.

Beaks aren't just for eating...this book is great in showing other ways such as building, finding a mate, and digging to name a few!

I then take the first graders around from table to table to show them how they will be using their beaks to eat! I read the sheets to them, give them a check off list, but going in a circle from station to station is easy enough! I was able to get my supplies from the Dollar Store or from my classroom or home. There are seven stations in all! Here are just a few fun stations in action.

How fun to dig for worms! Wheat germ and gummy worms!

Time to crack open a sunflower seed!

Watch the woodpeckers as they dig for bugs! I use Mung beans because I had them, but rice or split peas work perfect, too! Grab the tweezers and a sponge and your all set!

My little hummingbirds love the nectar! Droppers, graduated cylinders and a little flower prop and we have a fast flying bird ready to eat!

Bird Beak Stations and STEM Connections
When we are all done with the stations, because I only have an hour with my students, we finish up by having them create a bird that they saw in the book or they simulated in our stations. We add it to our anchor chart. If they get done nearly, I share with them a live eagle cam (yesterday we watched it eat a squirrel for lunch!) and compare it to a live bird cam from Cornell University!

Want to teach adaptations in a hands-on engaging way? Grab your set of Bird Beak Stations HERE!

After setting up all of the stations with supplies...I put them each in a baggie and they are all set for the next year!

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October STEM Stations

I see October right around that corner and you know what that means? Halloween, Candy, and Bat Stations! I am so fortunate to be able to teach science, but you know how I love to add STEM to my lessons! This year, I am hosting an after school STEM class and each week leading up to Halloween I am going to be working on a different activity that centers around a fun and timely October theme! Most importantly, I want my learners to understand the science (and math)  behind the activity or idea...from echolocation to push and pull...there is science to add to every great engineering project!

Week 1: 
Bats! Starting this week...I will not only teach the science behind echolocation, we also tie in different types of bats and their characteristics. I will have my kiddos working on building a bat and a bat habitat...from cave to tree as the STEM connection!

Week 2: 
Weaving Webs! We will learn about spiders and the science behind not only how they make their webs, but how spiders catch and eat insects! Once they are done, they will create their own web along with a way to make their web a game.

Week 3:
Getting ready for trick-or-treating with candy carriers! We will focus on capacity...volume...perimeter and area to add some math into our STEM stations! Once they are done, we will measure to see how many pieces of candy we can fit into their candy carrier! I love how they have to figure out a way to create a carrier out of ONE piece of paper!

Week 4: 
Building Frankenstein...perfect to share what they will wear! We will focus on movement of an object along with push and pull! I love putting movement to our Frankenstein designs. These two examples show how their models can slide as well as swing.

Week 5: 
Too much candy? Now, let's build with it! I will host three stations for them to try to wrap up our first session of STEM after school fun! Candy cars...candy playground...and candy corn catapults! We will discuss motion with all three!

It isn't always easy finding ways to find time for science, but if you are adding STEM activities why not find a science and math connection! It is a perfect way to put it all together!

Looking to find ways to tie Science and engineering together? Here are the packs that I am using for my after school STEM classes... from CANDY STEM...  to STEM HALLOWEEN FUN... or even BAT SCIENCE AND STEM... your kids will love a chance to build and connect this October!

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter for exclusive freebies and access to my free resource library! Check out the free STEM bat pack exclusive in my resource library along with other goodies sent right to your inbox!

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Measuring Up In Science With Hands On Stations

At the beginning of each school year I like to make sure that my students are ready for using science tools by creating and sharing Science Center's geared around measurement. 

Not only does that help them understand how to measure, but it also will help them get ready for each of our FOSS kits that require them to measure with a variety of tools! For my older students,  I focus on the tools that will allow them to measure capacity such as syringes, measuring cups, and graduated cylinders. We focus on helping them measure length, width, and height with a ruler, tape measure, and meter stick.
 Finally, we focus on mass or weight using a scale and a balance. Measuring the weight of something can be as easy as using cubes or as complicated as using grams. With my younger scientists, I focus on learning how to use a hand lens properly, how a balance balances and how can we fill capacity tools to a given line. Depending on the grade, the more I use a variety of tools that get them working hands-on.

We also focus on the universal way to measure things in science which is the metric system. That means working with centimeters ... grams... and milliliters! If you need to focus on Customary Standard Unit, do what is necessary for you. I use the metric system in our science room in all of my classes kindergarten through 5th grade. 

 What I love most about starting our school year off with measurement stations in science is that I can have my kindergarten through 5th graders be able to do Hands-On activities!  To get them started on the right track when we start our experiments is critical to saving valuable time especially when it is hard enough to fit science into a busy school day for my dear teacher friends. 

I want to share with you  ways to  to be able to set up stations so that you too can add measurement into your science lesson time making science child's play! 

Themed Stations Are the Way to Go!

It doesn't matter if it's kindergarten through fifth-grade you can set out tools and station cards and then go from station to station with guiding them on how to use the tools then you can release them to be able to try using those tools on their own. 

Finding a theme in measurement is a great way to get them excited about doing something that  isn't always easy for them. We don't spend a ton of time on measurement so this is another way to tie science and math together. From Measurement Olympics to I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell which I use...creating themes allows those kiddos to be able to be excited as they learn the tools along the way. 

I have them show me what they know. With the stations in place it also allows me to walk around the room and help students that are having a difficult time. While others are busy, I can reteach and support struggling students. 

So grab those hand lenses... those balances and scales...a handful of rulers and even those syringes as well as timers and you are set to go. If you want to save time setting them up, grab these Science Measurement Review Packs! 

Find these Packs {HERE}

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Summer School Can Be Cool!

Summer is now here and I am just got done with school... now it's time for Summer School Community Connections. This means I get the kids after they are in the morning session and now it is the afternoon. For me my Community Connection is STEM garden club. In the past I have taught strictly  Garden Club, but after seeing their exhausted faces after not only going to school 9 months out of the year with such rigor, I could not put them through any more let's learn a ton from a book or go outside for an hour and connect to nature. That is when I see discipline issues...when they just can't take anymore learning. 

 Let's just say this Monday, I was a little nervous because I saw these kids goofing around and not focus in the gym as I went to get them. It was kind of scary they weren't my students from my school...they were at MY school...and they were not having any of the I am going to be a listener thing!

 These kiddos are  not used to STEM activities so the test was going to be whether or not they could handle calming down and focusing and using their brain to build something absolutely amazing...absolutely summer centered... and garden connected!

Thanks For Hopping Over Here: Science is "Toad"ally Fun!

This week was tadpole week for the kindergartners. Let's just say, I showed the first through fifth graders, too! They are always mesmerized by real animals! When we are done with them this week, my third graders will be using the water to do pond study and habitats! They are taking a trip to a local pond where a real live scientist will be working with them on not only habitats, but food chains and animals found in the pond.

How can you make your learners "HOPPY"? Here are three easy steps to doing just that!

1. Use interactive Google activities. My littles love to go up to the smartboard and move the pieces around. Their behavior has also improved as I call on "good listeners" first.

2. Bring in live specimen when you can. That could mean crickets to teach insects, goldfish to teach about fish, or worms that you find in a garden. They are quick learning tools to get kids excited as well as learn how to care for animals in and out of their habitat!

3. Find engaging resources that help teach the BIG ideas of science. I use this pack to teach:
 habitats, life cycles, food chain as well as language arts and math! When they are all finished we even throw in a STEM project! It is perfect for this time of year!
 Frog STEM Grab and Go
Frog STEM Grab and Go
Now...a SECRET...

Thanks for hopping over here to the Science School Yard! It's Teacher Appreciation Week and I have a"Toad"ally awesome news...Tuesday, May 9 through Wednesday, May 10th Teachers Pay Teachers is giving an extra 8% off everything in my store...and everything in my store is going to be 20% off already!!!! That means 28% off everything if  you use the magic code...ready...

It's ThankYou17

I also want to thank you by giving away a $10 TPT gift card. All you have to do is follow my blog or sign up for my newsletter as well as leave a comment below sharing one thing that I could do to help you make science easier or a product that you would LOVE to see in my store. I will post the winner here on my blog Wednesday Morning!

I appreciate you! Thank you for stopping by and letting me be a part of your School Yard!

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Hate To Bug You: Insect Lessons for Littles!

Insects...those creepy...crawly animals that the kids just love! What a great time to add an insect unit when the trees are budding and the insects are coming out to play!

I just got meal worms in the mail. You know those worm like larva that go through a metamorphosis and turn into darkling beetles!

I need to bring some potatoes and a bit of corn meal so get them ready for my littles. Here are some quick and easy tips to add some insect fun into your lessons without having to spend a ton and yet let your kiddos have some fun!

Here are some great insect videos for you to use...I use the song first to let them see that insects aren't that icky!

Time for another video...this one that gives a lot of great facts!

Here are some affordable and fun ways to bring insects into your classroom!

1. Use crickets found at a pet shop along with dollar store plastic containers for a fun and easy insect exploration! Poke holes in the top with a pin...get some egg cartons in the container with some moist sponges and a bit of apple or orange and you are good to go! Females have the little stick like thing on the back called an ovipositor.

2. Find some lady bugs hanging around your house right after they wake up from a  long winter's nap...this is what happens in our sun room...get them in a cup with a lid and let the kiddos observe!

3. Mealworms can often be picked up at a pet shop and go through a metamorphosis from egg (which you don't see)...to larva...then pupa...and finally adult! Give each child a vile with  a mealworm, potato slice, and a bit of corn meal and each of them has an observable cycle!

4. Up for ordering painted ladies? There are many different venues for purchase. You will need a butterfly house once they turn into a chrysalis...then you can tape them to the top and wait to watch them come out as a butterfly. It is our highlight to have a release party!

5. Short of funds? Go outside and observe ants! Read a fun picture book about ants and then try to locate a worker ant, a guard ant, and if your lucky a nurse ant! Finding different colored ants is also fun!

Want a quick and easy pack to help you with the sheets you need to work with any of these insects and more? Find it in my insect pack! This is one of  my favorite packs because I just print and go with it!

 I won't bug you anymore...time to bug out of here! Thanks for letting me help you make science child's play!
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