The first annual maple boiling celebration was a huge success thanks to everyone who was able to take part in it, especially the faculty, staff, and community partners who supported this endeavor. In the morning, middle school students were very busy. On the evaporator side, they collected sap, brought the stored sap to the evaporator, added cold raw sap to the sap that was already boiling, added wood to the fire, and skimmed the foam from the top of the boiling sap. They also gave tours to the lower school students to teach them about the entire process of maple sugaring, which also included sled rides out to the woods to tour the area with the most tapped trees. An upper school class came out to learn about the process, and the international students were very excited to learn about this American tradition.
The afternoon was spent rotating between seven amazing stations in celebration of the activities that have been happening during the project. At one station students tried their hand at making their own delicious pancakes: from mixing and measuring the batter to pouring it on the griddle and flipping them. From there, students went outside to visit the evaporator that was donated by Pat Sadler and Dan Prokupets from WoodWise Land Management. This station included a lesson on the evaporation process as well eating their delicious pancakes with homemade maple syrup that they took part in making. The students moved on to the next station hosted by Mike and Tonia Galban from Ganondagan where they learned about the history of the first maple through the Native American culture as they showed students how to make cake sugar with wooden molds. Next students took part in Native American games, followed by time to make videos of maple sugaring poems that they found or wrote then set to music. Next the students spent time making spiles out of sumac as students learned about the original ways that Native Americans collected maple sap as well as the difference between hard and soft woods. At the final station, seventh graders broadened the research that they are conducting by testing the sixth and eighth grade students and volunteers to see if they have genetic traits for tasting PTC, Thiourea, or sodium benzoate followed by a blind taste test to determine their preference towards Grade A medium, dark, and artificial syrup.
It was nice to see Upper School students wander out to check on the excitement and learn about what was happening in their community. Some community members heard about what was going on and stopped buy throughout the day as well. We even had many families hear about the exciting day by their children and come back to visit the evaporation station at night as they journeyed to the Evening of the Arts.
After about thirteen hours of boiling the sap, the 150+ gallons of sap has turned into about nine gallons. Due to the lack of light and the density of the sap quickly changing, the decision was made to stop the process and continue the final stage of finishing the syrup tomorrow over a controlled temperature setting with light. We are hoping for about four gallons of Grade A Light finished syrup when the entire process is complete. Stay tuned for pictures and videos as I collect student footage and compile it into a movie and album to post.