Forest Classroom

Maple Magic

Week 7; March 18 2024

Today we started our big maple adventure! In the morning as the students started to arrive we worked on a sorting activity. There were picture cards out that showed either something that a tree needs/uses in order to make sap, or something that we humans use to make maple syrup. It was our task to sort through the pictures and put them in the correct bin. Once all pictures were sorted we then went through a few of them to discuss what they were and how they were used. Some examples were, a picture of cord wood, a hydrometer, water, roots, leaves, fire, the evaporator, the arch, and so many other photos.  

Our plan for the day was to do all things maple sugaring! We started by learning how to tap an maple tree. We learned how to identify if it is a maple tree (by it’s leaves, bark, branching, and tap scars). Then we learned how to safely use a bit and brace drill to get a hole in the tree, followed by hammering a tap/spout/spile into that hole. Finally we finish it by hanging a bucket on the tree and covering it with a lid. After we tapped 7 trees, we then helped our sugaring team re-tap some tree that were missing some peices and also helped with gather sap. We helped them gather over 300 gallons of sap around our sugarbush. 

Student tapping a tree
Tapping our maple trees! Photo: Audubon Vermont
student tapping maple tree
Another tree getting a tap! Photo: Audubon Vermont
students with a tapped maple tree
Photo: Audubon Vermont

After lunch we journeys to play our Gallon Challenge game. This game helps visualize how many gallons of sap (40) it takes to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. We hide 40 gallons in the woods and the students need to find them all. We found close to 40, about 38 gallons. You can read more fun facts about maple syrup and sap on the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers website and learn more about maple syrup in Vermont.  

Then we journeyed to find the Golden Tap! We searched many buckets to find which of the 600 taps was golden, and we did it! 

Students starting in front of tree
We found the golden tap! Photo: Audubon Vermont

We had such an amazing day that we wrapped up with a syrup taste test. We learned about the 4 different grades of maple syrup and that they are given a color and a taste name. The lightest is Golden/Delicate, then there is Amber/Rich, Dark/ Robust, and finally the darkest Very Dark/Strong.  

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