The Art and Science of Maple Sugaring
How sweet it is.
An eager and ambitious group of 1st-3rd grade students participated in a busy week centered around exploring both the art and science of maple sugaring. Having grown up on a farm in Vermont, maple sugaring was a big part of Heather Carnevale’s earliest springs. She fondly shared memories of running through the woods with a bucket gathering sap and then jumping on the back of her father’s tractor to drive on to the next area of the sugar bush. She was thrilled for the opportunity to share some of those same experiences with this group of students through one of Harborlight’s new Experience Weeks. The week was as full of activity as the buckets were full of sap.
Read below as Heather reflects on the week.
The moment students may remember the most? The Instant gratification. As soon as I pulled the drill bit from the tree the sap came dripping out…many of the students exclaimed that they were surprised that it came straight away! As soon as they had securely tapped the spile into the tree they were able to catch the sweetness of the sap right onto their tongue!
We had perfect weather for our Experience Week: The Art and Science of Maple Syrup! Freezing nights and warm days allowed the sap to fill our buckets (some actually running over), head out to the woods for tree identification and sketching, and programs at Mass Audubon. Inside the classroom there were demonstrations and hands on experiences on the layers of the tree trunk, photosynthesis, and the three states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) as connected to the maple sugaring process.
Students learned about the history of maple syrup, how the Native People of this land processed the sap through the time of the settlers and also into modern times. There was instruction on all of the criteria for maple syrup making: type and size of tree, what time of year, which side of the tree to tap, and how much sap is needed to make one gallon of syrup.
Of course, a week-long study of the sugaring process wouldn’t be complete with plenty of sampling of the sweet stuff! Each day the students tasted a different maple food and recorded it on a chart in their daily journal.
While only 1st – 3rd grade students were actually enrolled in the Art and Science of Maple Sugaring, the gift of learning has been shared across campus.
One of our Children’s House faculty made a point of reaching out to to share how much her students enjoyed the sugaring curriculum.
“I took out a group of our students to see the sap buckets. We started with a picnic snack while we read a book on sugaring, then they drew and labeled their observation of the trees with the buckets. At the end, they got little cups so they could taste the sap. Reviews on the taste were overall very positive! Thank you for leaving all of your materials up and making your curriculum so open, so that we could also learn from your experience week work.”
Please take a moment to pause and admire the student journals and paper mache tree that they made, all on display in the front lobby.