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September 19, 2018

Learning Has Never Been So Sweet


Pure maple syrup, try to envision eating a stack of pancakes without it?

Tylar Sutton, a student in the Project Explore Program at Oswego County BOCES checks the tap on one of the 89 sugar maple trees that he and his classmates tapped as part of a maple syrup making project.

Tylar Sutton, a student in the Project Explore Program at Oswego County BOCES checks the tap on one of the 89 sugar maple trees that he and his classmates tapped as part of a maple syrup making project.

It is truly one of nature’s tastiest bounties and for students in the Project Explore Program at Oswego County BOCES, making this sweet goodness might actually be more fun than eating it.

Project Explore Teacher KC Jones introduced his students to the industry of maple syrup production in early March, when the ground was still frozen and the snow was still flying.

The students and Jones snow-shoed into the wooded property that extends behind the BOCES’ campus in Mexico in search of sugar maple trees at least 10 inches in diameter.

Distinguishing the sugar maples by the characteristics of the bark, the students tapped 89 trees in preparation for the spring thaw. The students drilled the holes for the taps, hooked up tubing and collection buckets and then they waited, they waited for Mother Nature to unleash her grip on winter.

That moment finally arrived in mid-March when the sun began to shine and daytime temperatures climbed above freezing.

Trenton Baker collects the sap from one of the sugar maple trees that he and his classmates at BOCES tapped earlier this spring. The students collect the sap each school day and then boil the sap in an evaporator until it reaches the desired sugar concentration. The students will eventually be learning how to prepare and bottle their finished syrup product.

Trenton Baker collects the sap from one of the sugar maple trees that he and his classmates at BOCES tapped earlier this spring. The students collect the sap each school day and then boil the sap in an evaporator until it reaches the desired sugar concentration. The students will eventually be learning how to prepare and bottle their finished syrup product.

The sap began to run and the students began the feverish syrup-making process.

The students collected sap daily, fired up the wood-burning evaporator and began the slow and methodical boiling process.

The students monitored the evaporator until the sap reached a desired sugar concentration.

To determine this the students a utilized a scientific instrument known as a hydrometer.

Unlike a thermometer which measures temperature, a hydrometer measures the weight or density of a liquid.

Based on the students’ calculations through the project they determined that approximately 40 gallons of sugar maple sap would yield one gallon of pure maple syrup.

By the end of March the students had produced eight gallons of syrup and are not even close to being finished.

The sunny and warmer daytime temperatures and the freezing temperatures at night are creating optional sap producing conditions.

Students in the Project Explore Program take a break while working in the sugar shack recently. Clockwise around the evaporator, starting at left, are Richard Krause, Kyle Ward, Trenton Baker, Lance Reff, and Tylar Sutton.

Students in the Project Explore Program take a break while working in the sugar shack recently. Clockwise around the evaporator, starting at left, are Richard Krause, Kyle Ward, Trenton Baker, Lance Reff, and Tylar Sutton.

The students will be continuing production until the sap quite literally stops running.

At the end of this classroom project the students will bottle the gallons into smaller containers.

This involves re-heating the syrup to 180 degrees and bottling it into sterilized containers and then sealing.

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