A great first season for the new SJK Maple Project!
Like many things, the SJK Maple Project began as the seed of an idea (pardon the pun!) and a conversation last fall between me, School Chaplain Rev. Judy Steers, and our Outdoor Education teacher Mr. Ryan Pasquin. We started in earnest in late February with learning, planning, discussing, and acquiring equipment to prepare for tapping days in early March.
Many grades across the School have participated in this live learning environment. The Grade 6s – our project managers – have engaged in a wide spectrum of transdisciplinary learning in maple-syrup-related communication, art, science, math, climate and weather, and more. The Grade 5s have enjoyed a number of hands-on lessons in tree identification, tapping, and daily collection. As well, Grade 9 Geography had a tour of the ‘sugar bush’ led by a group of Grade 6 students, and Grade 11 Biology has expanded their unit on plant biology and improved their knowledge of xylem, phloem, and plant anatomy/function in this live lab. In addition, everyone has enjoyed samples of various concentrations as we have boiled down the sap to syrup. We have also learned more about Indigenous teachings and stories, seen traditional practices, and learned about technological innovations in maple production. Overall, we have gained a greater understanding of our connection to the land and our sense of place.
March Break saw many families come to participate in collecting sap, learning about the trees and project, and helping with the boil. Some made candy and enjoyed fresh pancakes with hot syrup right out of the pan.
How much have we collected? Over 200 litres! At the time of writing this article, our trees are still going strong and we are out collecting sap daily. We’ve produced over a gallon of syrup so far with more to come.
It’s been a very successful first year and we are looking forward to growing the project in the future.