Tuesday, March 13, 2012

maple sugaring, part 4

On Friday, the kids and I attended a Maple Sugaring program at the Auerfarm 4-H center. Here's our group in front of the sugar house. 4-H in CT is just starting to reach out to the homeschooling community, and this was their first Homeschooling day -- it was a great program, and I'm looking forward to their other offerings this spring.

The kids heard a legend about the discovery of maple sugar. This story was very similar to the legend we heard in past years at Northwest Park's maple sugaring program, and also the story we just recently read (Maple Moon). We had a good discussion on the way home about the similarities and differences between the stories, and what the actual "truth" might and might not be.

We visited with some of the center's tapped Sugar Maple trees, and our group leader explained how the trees are tapped and the sap collected. She also touched very lightly on the trees' sugar-making process, photosynthesis, and the tree's life cycle.

Then we went into the sugar house and discussed the boiling down of the sap into syrup. It was great for my kids to see a more "commercial" type operation to compare to our little backyard project. It also gave me a lot of great ideas for next year's sugaring project (which will focus on the actual science). For instance, I think it would be really interesting for us to compare the sugar content in various trees' sap with the use of a hydrometer. (Or even the sugar content over the course of the sugaring season for an individual tree.)

They also included a pancake snack so the kids could experience the taste of the syrup they are producing. This is J enjoying his pancake with his friend B and her sister M.

Nice program, and very timely with our sugaring project! We left the program and went home to spend the afternoon boiling down another batch of our own sap.

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