Students share their thoughts on the project

We recently have been tapping sugar maple trees in middle school to eventually boil down into syrup. First we tapped a big tree together as a middle school to learn how it’s done. Afterward the sixth and eighth graders went back to class while the seventh grade stayed out and found a tree of their own to tap. We then marked off the trees and went inside. We could not tap the trees yet as the next week was break and no one would be able to check all the buckets for sap everyday.

The day we got back from break we got into groups of one three -one person from each grade- and went outside to the forest once again this time to find our trees and tap them.

After much confusion over who’s tree was who’s, how the spile is to be put into the tree, how the bucket is to be hung off the spile, and who’s doing what wrong, we finally have all the trees hooked up to one of two kinds of spiles.

There are two kinds of spiles. One is a true metal spile that we drill a hole in the tree for and then hammer in. The other is a more of a tube than a spile. For the tube spile you drill hole then put in a spile that is actually more of a connecter. You then attach the tube that leads into the bucket to the spile. I used a metal spile on my tree.

Today we went outside to collect the sap from the trees and we got a good amount. We have 33 trees tapped and today we collected about 12-13 gallons from them just overnight. We may have gotten another gallon or two from the afternoon class, too!

I think this is a fun project we are working on as it involves hands on learning and the great outdoors. We can’t forget in the end we get maple syrup! I love maple syrup! I like to think it also helps build teamwork and responsibility. If other schools or programs are considering doing this, I would highly recommend this activity.

~Lauren B.

The thing I love most about maple sugaring is going back to the woods and collecting the sugary liquid of the sugar maples. I like opening the buckets to see how much sap has dripped out of the tree. I am usually very impressed with the amount of sap that falls into the buckets. I have never participated in maple sugaring before. I have always wondered how maple syrup is made and I have learned a lot more about that.

~Jordan

Maple sugaring has been fun. I like going out to tap all the trees. Besides its better than normal science class (just kidding….).  It’s fun to see which trees have more sap than others, like tree 9 had almost no sap in it. Maybe because it’s not the right kind of tree to tap. We’ve been getting a lot of sap but after we boil it down, there’s not gonna be much left. Nevertheless, we’re getting a sufficient amount I think. I don’t know a lot about maple sugaring. Till now, I had never tapped a tree. So this has been a good learning experience for me. It’s also very helpful that we’re taping everything. I like to watch the videos to review what we’ve been doing. Since I’m not the maple sugaring expert here, the videos help me understand this whole process. Over all, maple sugaring is awesome!

~Becky

The whole experience was a blast but some parts you needed to prepare more than others like how cold it was. The wind and mud was another task we had to deal with. Everyone was racing for a tree as soon as we got there some had to make a new find and some found other trees other than a sugar maple. All in all it was a good experience.
~ Rotsirohawi

Our class first went out to the woods and tried to identify sugar maples for tapping. Since there were no leaves on the trees we had to identify them by there buds,which were somewhat sharp and by the bark of the sugar maple. Once we had found a tree you had to mark it with a piece of something or string. A few weeks later week came back and started tapping the trees.we came back one day later to collect the sap.

~Danielle

Lately, We’ve been tapping Sugar Maple trees in the woods behind our school.  We just recently tapped all of our individual trees, and immediately the sap stared flowing.  We have already collected in excess of 12 gallons, which will produce about three gallons of syrup.  The sap is running quickly and we hope to collect much more sap in the coming weeks.

~JT C.

In school we have done some maple sugaring, which was a lot of fun. We tapped some sugar maples we found and collected a ton. It was soooooo much fun, we were able to go outside, and were able to put the holes in the trees ourselves! After tapping them we put a spile in the whole, and connected that to a tube that ran to a bucket, or we hung the bucket underneath. We had a lot of fun and soon we will be able to taster the delicious sap for ourselves!

~Joel

I think our maple sugaring project is really cool and a great learning opportunity. It lets us be more hands on which is important in science class. I also find it refreshing since not too long ago we were reading about it.

– Madison

I thought this whole experience was a blast but some parts stuck as more entertaining than others. The most entertaining moment had to be identifying the sugar maples. The cold air was brisk and the wind was chilly. The race to find a sugar maple increased as we wanted to get to the warmth of the school as efficiently as we could. I found one rather quickly, yet some of my fellow classmates were not as lucky as myself. I waited as the number of treeless students decreased, the number dropped to three and by now we were frozen. The last student found their tree and we rushed inside to the warmth of the school.

~James B.

I have learned that maple syrup flavor can be affected by the soil and the weather conditions during the time the tree is tapped. I have also learned that a tree can produce around ten to twenty gallons of sap per year. Sugar Maples have a higher sugar content than other maples and therefore have better tasting syrup.

~Anjana

The maple sugaring unit in science is extremely fun. In science we are studying genetics, so for an experiment we are going to taste different kinds of maple syrup to see how our taste buds react. It takes a long time for us to collect 200 gallons of sap. So we tap 33 at a time to reach our goal. There are different types of maple syrup one type is light watery syrup that has a milder taste to it. You can experiment with how long you boil the maple syrup to get the flavor that you like. In order to tap a maple tree the tree needs to be 10 inches in diameter. A tree with a diameter of 15 to 24 inches you can put two taps in. A tree with a diameter of 25 or above you can put three taps in it.

~Giovanni M.

We went out to the woods with drills, rubber hammers, buckets and spiles. We tapped the spiles into the tree with the rubber hammers. We just did that yesterday and already have 13 gallons. We need 200 gallons but when boiled down it will only be 5. We are checking every day for a week. My part is filming which is fun because I get to see everyone’s trees.

~Caroline

I have learned how to identify and, obviously, how to tap a tree. I think this is a really great bonding experience with our classmates and is a lot of fun in class. Also doing this project feels like an adventure with the fact that we really control a lot about it. Also, it is good to know that all this effort will result in some delicious maple syrup!

-Lennon G.

I think the maple sugaring is interesting because it is cool to obtain maple syrup from the trees. Also you’re able to taste it, which is very good.

~Sion

Maple sugaring has been very entertaining. We have learned lots of interesting things. We have been out to check for sap once, and the amount that came out of the trees was surprisingly large. We learned how to pound the taps into the trees to collect the most sap and avoid losing any. Overall, everything has been very fun, and should taste good when we are finished.

~Thomas

I liked being able to go out and tap the trees, and being able to harvest the sap from the trees! I just can’t wait to taste the homemade maple syrup!

~Tori

I thought it was cool how the Native Americans got the tree sap. Both the first way that killed the tree and the second way with that special sumac tree branch. I also didn’t know that syrup had different grades too. And I love how it changes for the location!!

~Sera

I learned that the flavor of the maple sugar can be affected by the type of soil, weather, tree and the time the tree was tapped.

I also learned that you can also make syrup by tapping Birch trees.

Another thing I learned was that to make syrup out of the sap it has to be boiled at 219 degrees F and if you go any higher it will be made into candy, any lower it will be too watery.

~Aditi

We recently tapped trees to get the sap to make syrup. We went to check on the trees and sap production today and we got maybe 13-14 gallons of sap out of like 33 trees. But those 13-14 gallons will only reduce to like 1/3 of a gallon of syrup. Bummer.

~Lila C.

I liked learning what trees were maple and what trees weren’t.  I learned something then. When we first tasted the sap, I thought it would be sweet, but it was bitter sweet. When we collected sap for the first time we didn’t collect that much, but a lot of other groups did.

~Hannah P.

I think that this is a cool project to be doing because it is a hands on experience. I have also learned many different things about maple sugar and the history of tapping trees that I wouldn’t have had a chance to learn. Like how to identify a sugar maple from other trees myself. I think this is a really cool experience to take part it.

~Kennedy

The reason I thought it was fun was because we will get to make syrup and because of how we learned to collect sap.

~Kenny

I enjoyed going outside and collecting the sap from the buckets. I haven’t had maple syrup on a long time, so it will be interesting if I recognize the taste.

~Corwin

The maple sugaring process is kind of simple. First you drill a hole not to deep in the tree, then you put in the spile in the tree and hook the bucket to the spile. It was fun to watch the maple sugar pile up in the buckets. I loved this and I want to do it again someday.

~Corwin

In science class we have been doing maple sugaring for a while. I like maple sugaring because I love eating syrup on my bacon. We are going to make 5 gallons of syrup. So to make that we have to collect 200 gallons of sap. The reason we collect so much is when we boil it down we barely get any.  Forty gallons of sap makes 1 gallon of syrup!

~Jaden

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About bguzzetta

I am a middle school math and science teacher at Allendale Columbia School. Technology and the outdoors are integral parts of my curriculum. I love outdoor activities, which I enjoy with my family. I have always felt that students should be exposed to global research, and am very excited to be bringing this to my students with the support of school. Therefore, I have embarked on a journey that includes a collaboration between myself, the Seneca Park Zoo, the Smithsonian Institute, and National Geographic's photographer David Liittschwager. Sports have always been part of my life, and I am the current Girls Vice President for the Rochester District Youth Soccer League.
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