The Independent Day School continued one of its most recent, yet cherished, traditions of maple tree tapping and syrup making over the past few weeks. The activity has proven to be a highly educational and entertaining activity for students (and even parents!) of all ages at the school.
“Tapping Season,” as it is affectionately referred to in New England, is the time of the year towards the end of winter when temperatures begin to creep above freezing during the day, but return to below freezing temperatures at night. This mixture of warming and cooling is considered the perfect time to begin tapping into maple trees, as those conditions allow for the most sap to emerge from the trees.
Fortunately, IDS has almost 30 maple trees right here on its sprawling campus, making it a perfect, nearby tapping site for maple syrup lovers and environmental enthusiasts.
“When the maple sugaring operation was first proposed, we knew we had some sugar maple trees at IDS,” remarked Director of Facilities Jim Rumberger, “but when we took a closer look we found that along "Old Durham Road" we had over 30 sugar maples in close proximity. This has afforded us a unique opportunity to harvest high-quality sap, right here on campus.”
The entire process of maple syrup making takes place right on campus, both during and after school hours. Multiple grades of children assisted Rumberger and Lower School/Early Childhood Science teacher Xander Lowery in the tapping process of each maple tree.
After a few days passed, students were in action again by diligently helping with the collecting and storing of the tree sap by taking the filled buckets and placing them in a secure, outside storage unit where the sap could remain chilled. Once enough sap had been collected, Rumberger and parent volunteers began the long and tedious process of boiling the sap in a massive “cooker” which eventually turning the sap into delicious syrup.
“The sugaring process touches multiple topics across our science curriculum,” said Lowery. “This includes tree identification, such as structure and function, photosynthesis, global seasonality, and states and properties of matter just to name a few.”
After weeks of hard work, careful planning, and countless great learning opportunities, IDS ended up with almost six gallons of sweet maple syrup to be shared with the community in various ways!