One of my favorite lessons I teach to high school students at Owsley County High School is the Food Science in Agriculture Unit. Why? Because we get to make, collect, and sample great products! I choose to teach this during the “off” months because we often can’t do much on our school farm. This year I introduced a hit with my students and it was all by chance.
One Sunday afternoon I got a call from a local producer. He said I needed to come for a visit. I was so glad I did! He gave me a tour of his home maple syrup facilities, and I was excited. I had never seen it done anywhere before,
much less in our small community. Thanks to Snow Storm 2015, I wasn’t able to take my classes up for a tour, and I didn’t want them to miss out. So this turned into our class project beginning with sugar maple trees located on my family’s farm.
I purchased the supplies I needed from amazon, and collected and sterilized containers I would need for the sap. I also enlisted some extra help with the identifying, carrying, and collecting. My students sampled raw sap straight from the trees and were very hesitant at first. Many of them liked it, many didn’t, and others accused me of putting some sweetener in some tap water. Most of my students had never tasted nature’s nectar.
We made charts and graphs; measuring the beginning amount of sap and the ending amount of syrup. The first batch used 5 gallons of raw sap and produced one pint of pure maple syrup. Of course a taste test was in order after the finished product was made.
Materials we used:
* 20 plastic taps and plastic hose
* Drill and bit to drill holes in tress for taps
* clean containers
* propane tank and turkey fryer set
* clean jars for product
Photo Caption: Pictured here is Apple Jelly (left) and Maple Syrup (right) made in my classroom using local products.
1. Start with a lot of product and then as water cooks off empty comtents into smaller container. This allows less use of fuel.
2. Involve students in all aspects of the project (or as much as possible). They love it.
3. Be sure to relate as much science, math, and reading/writing as you can. It is a great fun way for them to make connections and apply what they know.
As I am getting older (and wiser) I am finding I love to do these heritage projects with my students. They often go home and ask their grandparents and parents questions and I even find them showing up in their essays for other classes. We are all anxiously awaiting the warm spring and summer months so we can get out and play in the dirt, but in the mean time projects like this are keeping us warm.
Submitted by: Candrea Bingham, Agriculture Teacher/FFA Advisor Owsley County High School 3-10-15