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Middle School Students Learn How to Make Maple Syrup

This winter, Highland Middle School students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 spent time learning about the maple sugaring process, which is used to produce maple syrup. The student-led project was completed under the guidance of Science teacher Cornelia Harris.

Before tapping several maple trees along the school’s property line, the students spent time researching the process, studying the history of making maple syrup, and learning techniques and best practices. Once they had a firm understanding of the steps involved, the students got to work, immersing themselves in everything from designing and building an arch—which is the stand used to hold the evaporator pans that are needed to boil the sap—to actually tapping the maple trees and harvesting the sap. 

The Huskies even invited a few Highland Elementary School classes over one day in March to learn firsthand how maple syrup is made. The older students acted as teachers, demonstrating key points of what they had learned from their project. Highlights for the Grade 4 and 5 students included sampling the syrup and getting an up-close look at tree-stump cutting during an interesting discussion about plant anatomy.

By the time the five-week project was complete, the Middle School students had collected approximately 35 gallons of sap. They used 10 of those gallons to produce one quart of maple syrup. 

Harris said she is proud of her students, who quickly learned that the lessons involved in the maple sugaring process had ties to several different academic subjects. 

“By tapping our own trees for sap, students learned not only how to make maple syrup but also the biology and history behind it, including how Native Americans processed sap and why real maple syrup is so expensive,” she said. “They did a great job!” 

Harris would like to thank Lowe’s of Highland, the Highland Hannaford, and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook for donating or lending the materials needed for this project.