Maple trees

A Hobgood Elementary first grader gets some help from teacher Martin Ridgley to tap a maple tree to being the process of making maple syrup. SUBMITTED

When you have a school campus with healthy maple trees, a lesson plan is soon to follow. 

As part of a STEAM project, more than 100 Hobgood Elementary first graders tapped maple trees on the school grounds last week to begin the harvest of maple syrup.

Students learned the science behind maple syrup through identifying healthy trees, collecting weather data, assembling the correct harvesting equipment and finally making the first taps on the trees with first grade teacher Martin Ridgley’s assistance. 

Sap starts to flow between early-February and mid-March depending on the weather conditions. 

“This was definitely an experiment,” Ridgely said. “We measured, discussed and planned for weeks but until the sap actually started flowing, we were all a little on edge.”

Sap generally flows for four to six weeks. The first graders will watch the process of collection including changing out the collection jugs and demonstrating the experience throughout the month to all grade levels.

“Students were engaged and amazed at the rapid reaction of the tree and the sap collection,” Hobgood Principal Quinena Bell said. “This was definitely a new experience for our students and many of our staff members.”

The final stage of the process will be to create maple syrup by filtering and boiling the collected sap. The syrup will be used at a pancake breakfast for the students.

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