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Homework Help: Honors molecular biology homework help please

  1. Sep 10, 2008 #1
    Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)


    My daughter was given a honors project for Biology at her very small private high school (maybe 150 students total)

    It is on molecular biology (I think)

    She was given no workbook, no information, and no idea as to where to find the answers.
    I purchased the biology book recommended by the local universtiy, Biology by Campbell Reese.
    But if we are looking directly at the answers, I am not sure that we can recognize them because I am not sure that you can just look up the answers without having read all of the chapters prior to this one.
    (Especially since she is just a high school freshman)

    Her teacher has no idea of where to find the answers, and this packet was made by one of the parents many years back, and he worked in a lab of some type.

    Not one student has stayed in the honors program in the last five years, and the ten students that are taking it now in her class are all about to drop before they finish the first packet. (probably my daughter as well)

    We are looking up the answers as best we can, however we are completely unsure if they are correct.

    We were hoping to finish the first packet, and at least get to the second one - if it is as difficult (impossible) then we will have to let her drop.

    My husband has a PHD in physics and cannot find the answers, and I cannot either.
    I am not asking for answers, possibly just some help double checking what we can find, and also some direction if anyone else has this book - possibly help like - which chapter or paragraph to find the answer in.

    Also - do you all think this is normal honors work for a freshman in high school?

    If this is, then my daughter must be getting shortchanged by going to this school, beacause this information is no where at all in her book.
    Please let me know if it is ok to post some questions and the answers that we are thinking are correct.'

    Thanks for any advice you all may give.

    Here is a sample question, one we tried to answer but are not sure it is correct.

    Base-pair substitutions involving the third base of a codon are unlikely to result in an error in the polypeptide.
    This is because

    I think it is because:
    Substitutions are restricted to introns.

    Did our research pay off, or should we try again?

    Any help is genuinely appreciated.

    By the way - we would just have her drop the course, however she wishes to study biology.
    She is determined become a biologist someday, and has been scouting Scripps since she was just about 9 years old.
    She is currently 14.
    She has already visited their campus - and is very serious about her goal.
    Hawaii Pacific is choice two
    This has been her goal since she was in junior high, and she has a passion for biology.

    I am hoping that this is really just above her head, and not something she should be expected to know as a high school freshman.

    I do not want her to get discouraged.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2008 #2


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    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Based on the sample question you've asked, the answer certainly would be in Campbell's text.

    I'm not quite sure why you're trying to do her assignments for her, or why she's skipping chapters. I'm also not quite sure why she's getting assignments without an assigned textbook. Or does she have a textbook? If so, which one?

    For the sample question, read the section about translation. This may require some backtracking as well, possibly all the way to the beginning of the book where things like nucleotides and amino acids are defined. I don't have a current edition of the text...the last time I taught freshman biology was *cough cough cough*...some number of years ago.

    That sort of question seems pretty basic, so yes, it's appropriate for a high school honor's biology class, and would be covered in any standard biology textbook. More concerning is that it sounds like there is no teacher teaching the course. Is it meant to be an independent study course?
  4. Sep 10, 2008 #3


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    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    I agree that the question is appropriate for high school students and should be answerable given that the students have learned about basic molecular biology (specifically, the genetic code).
  5. Sep 10, 2008 #4
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Thanks for the response.
    My daughter does have a biology textbook, but not one single thing like this is found "ANYWHRE" in the textbook at all.
    Her textbook is a Glencoe textbook.
    I picked up the campbell textbook at our local university - because we were unable to find the answers online.
    I am absolutely not trying to do her homework for her, I am just trying to direct her a little as to where she might be able to find the answers.
    Usually I will find the answer, then if she is headed in the wrong direction, I will tell her try again, and maybe give her a tip like, it has something to do with amino acids.

    As for the course, at her school (geared towards gold medal olympic stars, seriously) they dont seem to put much emphesis in biology.
    We may be forced to seek out a different school next year.
    All honor students are put in a regular class, and given a packet of 7 pages and told this is the honors packet.
    These are only questions, nothing else.
    It is not information that is covered in her textbook.
    The word transcription, or codon, or eukaryotic cells is not even existant in the index.
    All of the parents are very confused as to why this is being handed out.
    There are 10 students in the honors biology, and all 10 told the teacher today that they will be dropping the course.
    I guess my daughter probably have to as well.
    The packet is due next Monday.

    Thanks for the help, and you are right, it is quite concerning.
    In the biology class, they are studying eco systems.

    I am not sure wht is going on, but either the class is being taught far behind where public schools here are, or the packet is far to advanced.

    I appreciate your help - it helps me know what questions I should be asking the school and teachers.

    Rhonda :)
  6. Sep 10, 2008 #5
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Here is a link to my daughters biology book.


    Can anyone tell me if this is a lame book?
    Possibly, she is not getting what she needs from this class.

  7. Sep 10, 2008 #6


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    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    I had never heard of that textbook, so tried to look up more about it. I can't find anything that provides any preview of it (was hoping I might find something on Amazon). But, I did find some rather scathing reviews of it here:

    The Campbell's textbook will definitely cover everything though. The only difficulty there may be that it is a university level textbook, so might be tough for a high school freshman to read.

    I'm really sorry to hear your daughter has such a bad experience in her biology class. It sounds very poorly run to be teaching about eco systems and have the independent project on an entirely different topic with no teacher guidance.

    Perhaps your daughter and her other honors classmates can get together to work on the Campbell's chapters together, and then come here with their collective questions? Or perhaps all of their parents can chip in together on a group tutor? I'd suggest finding a bio major from a local university if you are near enough to one. Especially if her interest is in studying biology in university, I don't want to see her flounder now!

    Edit: I'm looking for some additional online resources that might help and be at an appropriate level for high school students.
    Here's one:
    It's searchable or you can navigate through an index. It seems it might be hard to find stuff if you don't know what you're looking for yet, but if you have some terms you need to understand, it might be useful there. The few pages I've looked over seem accurate and appropriate for high school level. I have NOT reviewed their entire site though, so no promises.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2008
  8. Sep 10, 2008 #7
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Thank you so much for your help.
    Those are definately great ideas.
    I am also thinking of giving the book I purchased to the teacher, and maybe she can make a packet and then help the students a little more.

    As for the heavy reading, I am not a biology student, but I must say it is definately tough reading for me!

    I am a RMT, and studied anatomy and phisiology, but biology is over my head.

    I genuinely appreciate the help and advice.
    I will try to work with the teacher and see what can be done before the kids drop the class.

    The deadline makes it a bit tough too.
    I think they waited too late becasuse they kept asking if there would be a handout and the teacher kept telling them that she was checking into it.

    Again - most sincere - thank you for the help and advice.
    Rhonda :)
  9. Sep 10, 2008 #8
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Oh, one more thing - thank you for the book review.
    It mimics my feelings on the book exactly.

    Maybe the thing my daughter should do is to drop the honors, and begin studying the Campbell book and find someone to grade her work.
    Just so that when she is a freshman in college, she will not be so lost.

    If you can recommend a freshman science book that I should purchase, she will study it. She is very self motivated, and wants to make sure that she is keeping up.

    As far as the school that my daughter attends,
    I think what our school cares about is sports scholarships.

    We travel extensively, and private school seemed a better option, but now I am beginning to question.

    They use the IOWA placement tests, and I am not even sure how good this is.

    Anyway - thank you for all of your help and advice.
    I am sure you were a AWESOME teacher!

  10. Sep 11, 2008 #9


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    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Okay, you have me really puzzled by that comment. Anatomy and physiology require a biology background. Okay, there are some A&P courses that are taught to students with no biology background, but if you can understand physiology, the rest of biology is the easy stuff.

    That sounds like the best plan. If you're paying for this education, I'd be demanding a bit more effort on the part of the teacher to get your money's worth!

    Again, if you can reason with the teacher that the student's aren't at a stage of their education where they should be teaching themselves (and they aren't at 14), I'm sure the teacher can adjust the deadlines to provide time to remedy the problems with how the material is currently being handled.

    If I had the time, I'd suggest your daughter and her classmates get together and start a thread here to discuss their assignments and get help learning the material. We have a few other biologists around here who can help, but probably not enough to even tag-team to provide the amount of help they'd need. I'm tempted to make the offer, but realistically, I have too many lectures to prepare for my own students (I teach anatomy to dental, nursing and med students now). But, they can certainly come ask for help and as some of us have time, we can do what we can to aid them.
  11. Sep 11, 2008 #10
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Thank you once again for ALL of the help.
    As for my anatomy and phisiology, to become a RMT, you really only need limited information in the biology area.
    In massage school, we pretty much brushed the surface of the cellular level chapter. Mostly they concentrate on the bones and muscles.
    (Principals of Anatomy and Physiology by Tortora Grabowski)
    I took this course many years ago, and currently do not currently practice.
    Encountered a few too many "creeps" asking for things that were not in the job discription.
    I currently have a online e-store and keep very busy with this.
    Put the money away for my daughters future education.

    I will scan over the first few chapters of my book once again.
    I know it did discuss DNA, but definately not to the extent of this paper.

    I approached the school with the book by Neil Campbell today, and told them that I challanged them to find the answers without reading from page 1-300.

    After watching her skim the book, I then asked her to compare the information to the book they were currently using.

    She informed me that she would give the answer key to the teacher so that she can figure out what is appropriate for the kids at this age and using their "current" book.

    She also stated that she would give the teacher the next packet and answer key to do the same thing with.

    As for me -
    I (unfortunately) went to school during the days (and in a town) where they passed you if they felt sorry for you.

    My mother was a cancer patient, with three kids and not father to help. (multiple cancers over many years)
    I spent many days and nights at the hospital over a long span of many years, instead of being at school.
    We were latchkey kids due to circumstances.
    I do not have the education that is required to help my daughter.
    While I am smart in some areas, I do not have the foundation to help in the more complex studies.

    I push very hard for a good education for my daughter because I personally know the obsticles that you encounter without one.
    I have a noted math disability, and algebra is just simply out of the question.
    I do not allow my lack of ability to be a crutch for my daughter.

    As you can probably see, if I am in doubt, I reach out for help and ask questions.

    If I am unable to help, I hire a tutor.
    She is required to learn.
    I refuse to allow her to find herself in a situation similar to mine.
    She needs qualified teachers.
    She has never received a B, and she is much harder on herself than I am.
    I personally do not care about the grade - as long as I know she has learned the steps. She cares about the grade.
    She does every piece of extra credit work she can find.
    And if assigned 10 problems, she does 20.
    She is in honors English, and Geography as well as the Science.
    She is a hard working student.

    My husband travels (In Korea currently). Without giving away to much for safety reasons, he is only available to help with homework on the weekends.

    It can be quite challenging, especially when she comes home with work like this.

    I will put a few more of the questions here - just so you can get a more clear idea.
    After the review of the book, I am worried that the biology that she is being taught is going to leave her behind.
    This is especially troubeling to me since this is the field she wishes to work in.

    1. Base-pair substitutions involving the third base of a codon are unlikely to result in an error in the polypeptide, this is because?
    A. substitutions are corrected before transcription begins
    B. substitutions are restricted to introns
    C. the base-pairing rules are less strict for the third base of codons and anticodons
    D. a signal-recognition particle corrects coding errors
    E. transcribed errors attract snRNPs, which then simulate splicing and correction

    2. In eukaryotic cells, transcription cannot begin until?
    A. The two DNA strands have completely seperated and exposed the promoter
    B. Several transcription factors have bound together
    C. the 5' caps are removed from the mRNA
    D. the DNA are removed from the template
    E. DNA nucleases have isolated the transcription unit

    3. Which of the following is not true of a codon?
    A. It consists of three nucleotides
    B. It may code for the same amino acid as another codon
    C. It never codes for more than one amino acid
    D. It extends from one end of a tRNA molecule
    E. It is the basic unit of the genetic code

    4. The anticodon of a particular tRNA molucle is?
    A. complementary to the corresponding mRNA codon
    B. complementary to the corresponding triplet in ?rRNA
    C. the part of tRNA that bonds to a specific amino acid
    D. changable, depending on the amino acid that attaches to the tRNA
    E. acatalytic, making the tRNA a ribosome

    5. Which of the following is not true of RNA processing?
    A. Exons are cut out before mRNA leaves the nucleus
    B. Nucleotides may be added at both ends of the RNA
    C. Ribozymes may function in RNA splicing
    D. RNA splicing can be catalyzed by spliceosomes
    E. A primary transcript is often much longer than the final RNA molecule that leaves the necleus

    6. Which of the following is true of translation in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes?
    A. Translation is couples to transcription
    B. The product of transcription is immediately ready for translation
    C. The codon UUU codes for phenylalaine
    D. ribosomes are affected by streptomycin
    E. the signal-recognition particle (SRP) binds to the first 20 amino acids of polypepties.

    When I was talking to the director, she mentioned in passing, "I do not know, we do not have the same book that was used when these papers were made up"
    My guess is that the students were not doing so well in the subject (probably due to the fact that teachers here are rotated in subjects, and are not trained in any particular subject - meaning the Latin teacher may be teaching math next year)
    Not that the teachers are not skilled, just possibly not in the subject that they end up being assigned.
    I would assume each teacher is most probably better at some subjects than others. (just as in every other profession)

    I am beginning to think that the book was changed to an easier book based on the low grades.

    Anyway - those sample questions are page 1 of the 7 page packet.
    Page 2 is basically the same type of questions.
    Page 3 is a bit easier, and my daughter was able to answer them, while the other 9 were not able to answer even one question in this packet.
    Page 4 - You are asked to draw the nontemplate (coding strand) of DNA for the template shown:
    5' U- G-G-U-U-U-G-G-C-U-C-A 3'
    The teacher told the kids - I have an example on the wall, just copy that one.

    Question 2 on this page is
    compare and contrast its base sequence with the mRNA molecule
    Discuss the direction and base sequence.

    Question 3 - this page
    Describe three properties of RNA that allow it to perform dirverse rolls in the cell.

    Now I am no teacher, but I would assume that if you copy the example on the wall, but have no understanding of why or what it does, you are surely not going to know how to answer questions about it.

    page 5 is Give functions of following types of RNA

    My daughter breezed through this one, although the other kids - again, said they have been unable to answer even one question in the packet.

    Page 6 - Discuss the three stages of transcription (the DNA - directed synthesis of RNA) and quite a few questions in this area.
    Page 7 is more of the same as page 6

    Again - I assume from what you are telling me, that these are appropriate questions for Freshmen.

    I just thought I would post them, so that if I possibly made the questions look much simplier than then were, you could correct me.

    I find these to be hard, but then again - as I stated, I do not have the education in certin areas such as math and biology to be of assistance to her.

    Thanks for all of the help and advice.
    I am VERY GRATEFUL to have been fortunate enough for you to speak with me.
    You have given me good direction, and I will definately be seeking some additonal sources for biology instruction for my daughter.

    Possibly a home school group that will give her an additionl biology class this summer.

    Thanks again,
    Rhonda :)
  12. Sep 11, 2008 #11
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    In the previous post, I said honors science.
    It is honors biology ;)

  13. Sep 12, 2008 #12


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    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Yes, these are appropriate questions for high school freshmen. These types of questions should not even be limited just to honors students. The other students should get this same level of education, just perhaps at a slower pace to give them more time to learn it.

    And they haven't re-written the assignments to match the book they ARE using? That's pretty pathetic. Are these certified teachers?

    :bugeye: By high school level, teachers should be "generalists." They should be teaching the subjects they have a strong background in. Sure, a staff-shortage one year might force one teacher to cover a subject they are not strong in, but rotating them through subjects makes absolutely no sense at all. That just sounds like a recipe for disaster. What sense is it for the English major to teach science classes or the science major to teach Latin classes, etc.? And, even if they put the time into learning a subject well enough to improve their teaching, they teach something else the next year? Is the administrator on drugs?

    Yes, they are.

    You're welcome. I wish I could help more. Please, have her sign up here too. At least on a limited basis, we can help her with her questions, and perhaps at least keep her inspired long enough to get the foundation she needs to pursue a biology major in college.

    Seriously, given what you've described of this school, I'd move her to a different school as soon as possible. I don't know what the public schools are like in your area, but it's hard to imagine them being any worse. It's a myth that private schools are always better than public schools...it really depends on the school district and the quality of the individual private schools.
  14. Sep 12, 2008 #13
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Thank you once more, you sound like a very busy person.
    I genuinely appreciate your taking time to talk with me.

    Today is my daughters birthday. (turning 15)
    She is having a few friends over on Saturday.
    I have asked her to have them bring their science books with them.
    They go to other local public schools in other parts of the metroplex.
    I will have a look at them and see how much they differ from what she is using. I am just a bit curious if it is our whole area that is behind, or just my daughters school.
    When they talk on the phone, they seem to be doing somewhat the same sort of work, (but then again - I only hear one side of the call) this is why I have not been so concerned before, and explains why the honors paper threw me.
    After I look at their books, I will have a better idea.

    Somone suggested that I sign her up for a audit class at a local community college.
    Probably not a bad idea, so that she can begin to figure out what a real biology course is like.

    I will also begin the quest of looking at other schools.
    I am not particularly set on a private school.
    We selected the school years ago because we traveled extensively, and private school better suited our needs for make up work and such.
    We already knew that we would probably have to limit our travels to the summer months when she began high school, so there is no real reason to keep her in private. (though she has been taking additional summer classes each year, so far)
    We, as parents - just want to make sure that she gets the proper education.

    She visited Scripps when she was around 12 years old, and picked it as one of her top two choices.
    she has visited some of the high schools when they were doing their college recruitments
    She likes the idea of Hawaii Pacific as well, so I KNOW that grades will have to be better than just average to get into one of these schools.

    I was wondering if you have any particular impression or thoughts on the IOWA test?
    She always scores EXTREMELY well on these?
    Are they outdated as well?

    Rhonda ~
  15. Sep 12, 2008 #14


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    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    My personal take on the IOWA tests are that they are a very good indicator of the strength a student has in specific subjects. I consistently scored in the 98th percentile in all subjects except math in IOWA tests and having been given IQ tests by the school at age eleven, both placed me in the upper 2 percentile, so they do seem to be in sync.

    Of course this was a long time ago for me. But if your daughter is scoring above average then you are safe to assume she's above average. :smile:

    My youngest daughter took all honors and AP courses in High School and as a result most of her freshman college credits were already filled. Make sure your daughter takes AP classes.

    Also, she won national Science awards, make sure that the school gives these tests. She is pre-med and all of the recognition she won helped.

    Sounds like you have a very intelligent, motivated daughter and you are doing the right things for her. Also, you were very lucky getting Moonbear, she teaches at a medical school.

    Also, check with the public school in your area. I found out that our school district had an experimental High School for gifted children, only 92 kids in the entire school. She really flourished and it was free.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
  16. Sep 12, 2008 #15
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Ok, this is a little strange.
    My daughters IOWA scores are generally very high.
    The 7th grade tests were better than the 8th grade ones.
    These are a bit lower - but I am thinking they will rise again this year since 4th - 7th were all in the 98% to 99% range.
    The kids had tons of new teachers for the 8th grade.

    There were certain areas on the 8th grade IOWA that the kids said they had not covered any of the questions asked, but overall in the areas that they covered, the kids scored ok, while not as good as last year. (when I say kids, I mean the kids in my daughters classes, the kids move through the grades together, meaning all of the 8th graders will share the same classes next year since there are only around 10 students that share the afternoon classes)

    My daughters scores on the last test (8th grade) were as follows (again - a few areas dropped due to the material not having been covered at all)

    Grade 8
    Vocabulary NPR - 91
    Reading Comprehension - NPR - 92
    Reading Total - NPR 92

    Spelling - NPR 89
    Capitilization - NPR 99
    Punctuation - NPR 87
    Usage and Expression - 94
    Language Total - 96

    Concepts & Estimation - NPR 73
    Prob. Solv. & Data Interp - NPR 69
    Math Computation - NPR 61
    Math Total - NPR 69
    (math is, has always been her weakest subject)

    Core Total 91
    Social Studies - NPR 63 - (this one the entire class bombed - said they had not covered any of this)
    Science - NPR 95
    Maps and Diagrams - NPR 93
    Reference Materials - NPR 94
    Sources of information Total - NPR 96

    Composite - NPR 300

    As I mentioned earlier, her scores were lower for this year, however I expect that they will be better this year.

    The majority of teachers for the rest of her courses "seem" to be great this year, and I am definately not sure that the biology teacher is the issue - she is clearly given a lame book to teach from.

    As for the teachers degrees, the majority of them hold bachelor degrees.

    Thanks everyone for all of your help!
    Let me know what you think of these scores - usually they are higher, but these are still well above other schools right?

    I think these numbers mean that she is scoring that % higher than the avarage student correct?

  17. Sep 12, 2008 #16
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    I'm Destiny, the student with the biology honors trouble. I just wanted to thank everyone for your help. It really means a lot to me that you all have taken the time to help me out. =) I really appreciate everything you've said!

    If anyone has any advice to help me pursue a career in the field of biology, I'd certainly love to hear it!

    I just made an account here; it's kurobara.

    Thanks again everyone! ^_^
    ~ Destiny
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
  18. Sep 13, 2008 #17


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    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Hi Destiny, great to hear from you. I hope to see you posting around here and in our bio forum under your new account name. (Please try not to use your mom's account...it'll get confusing to us.)

    And happy belated birthday!

    I'm curious what your friends' textbooks are like. If they have better books, maybe you could buy a copy of one of those books to study from. It might be easier to work through than the college level textbook.

    Work on your math scores too. :wink: You'll need to take a lot of math in college for a bio major too. We have a LOT more people on this forum who can help you with math homework questions, so if you need help understanding something, please head over to the math homework area.
  19. Sep 14, 2008 #18
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Hello everyone,
    Ok, my daughter had her friend bring her book over,
    we are borrowing it from her this weekend, and will take it back to her late this evening.
    WOW - her book is soooooo much better than my daughters.
    Yes - there is a whole chapter covering DNA and RNA!
    The book they are using is Texas Edition: Biology (Hardcover)
    by Kenneth Miller (Author), Joseph Levine (Author)

    While I am not sure that this is the "best" book out there, (could not really find any reviews on it) it sure does beat my daughters book.

    My daughter will not be posting on my thread, I did tell to introduce herself here, because I was hoping that the people here who have been so increadibly helpful might keep an eye out for her posts. :)

    Thank you all so much everyone, I think I now have some direction as to what to do to make sure that she gets the biology help and instruction that she needs.

    Rhonda :)
  20. Sep 14, 2008 #19
    Re: Honors molecular biology homework help... please :)

    Yes, I'll be using this account from now on. ^_^

    Thank you so much!! =D

    Only one friend could make it yesterday. She's letting me borrow her biology book until Monday night (she doesn't have biology on Mondays). I haven't been able to do some serious work on it today, but from the little bit I have read, I've already found a few answers. Her book seems to go into much more detail than mine does, and it's also much more organized. I intend to simply copy the chapter I need from her book at the library tomorrow so I don't keep her book too long, but I'm already seeking to buy a copy to use for the rest of the projects. =)

    I know. ^_^; My scores in math are pretty bad. I'd love to get some help from people here. I could definately use all the help I can get on it.
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