February is the perfect time for tree tapping and when you have a school campus with healthy Maple trees, a lesson plan is soon to follow. As part of a first grade STEAM project, Hobgood Elementary students tapped Maple trees on the school grounds this week to begin the harvest of Maple syrup.
Hobgood first graders began their unit of study with a visit from a community partner who introduced the concept of tree tapping in Middle Tennessee. Students continued to learn 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 this week with first grade teacher, Martin Ridgley’s assistance.
“This was definitely an experiment,” says Ridgely. “We measured, discussed and planned for weeks but until the sap actually started flowing, we were all a little on edge.”
Over one hundred students participated in this hands-on experience. Students identified healthy trees, drilled the initial hole and finally tapped the tree and inserted the tapping instrument.
Sap generally flows for four to six weeks. The first graders will watch and document 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,” says Hobgood Principal Quinena Bell. “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.