In Massachusetts, we all know and love maple syrup. People in other states might never have had the real thing, and people in other countries may not have ever heard of it. We take maple trees for granted because they are a thriving resource in our state.
At Innovation Academy, we have a number of beautiful maple trees on our property. Thanks to some dedicated high school teachers and students, several taps are helping us enjoy this flowing gem. This year, I decided to make some syrup by boiling it on my stovetop. Unfortunately, my first attempt ended up burning. After 20 minutes of our smoke alarm blaring as we tried to air out the kitchen, we soaked and scrubbed the pot and were left with no reward. Everybody makes mistakes, so I tried not to be too upset. I knew that I needed to do some further problem solving, so I researched more online. I found out that there is a magic temperature and that the end part is the most important. The sap evaporates and ends up reducing 40 times smaller than how it started!
On the second attempt, I enlisted several students to help me collect the sap. We had to wait for a freezing night followed by a warmer day, but then we set out. We all had a great time, but it did take some team work. Students needed to use community membership to work together carrying the heavy buckets back to the school. They also used effective communication skills to figure out who should do each job. Everybody wanted a chance to empty one of the buckets, but nobody was strong enough to carry the whole load!
Back at my house, I filtered the sap and put it on the stove to boil. And waited. I needed to be self directed as I watched. I knew that if I lost focus, I could burn the sap again. It took hours and as the sap reduced, I switched to smaller pots. I made a little video so that you can see the process in a much more speedy way. If you notice the time on the stove clock, you can see how long it really took.
Success! I was finally able to enjoy some pancakes which tasted MUCH better than usual. Was it the freshness of the syrup, or all the hard work I put in? Maybe a little bit of both!
*Note: Want to make your own syrup? There are lots of instructions online, but here‘s one to get you started. If you want to be successful, you’ll probably need to use our school’s four social outcomes shown in bold print above.