In a school setting where environmental awareness and sustainable living are essential to the curriculum, learning from the land is an everyday activity.
Students at Seven Generations Charter School in Emmaus learn indoors and out, and apply hands on demonstrations to their lessons. The 2nd and 4th grades of Seven Generations learned about trees and forests in the classroom, and then worked outdoors on their campus to tap maple trees to procure sap to make maple syrup.
Rob Aptaker, Seven Generations’ Support Teacher led the outdoor lesson. With a crowd gathered around him, Aptaker explains the process of tapping trees.
A small hole is drilled into a maple tree, a tap is inserted and bucket is attached to the tap to collect the sap. Maple trees produce sap for a short amount of time each year, so the opportunity to witness this event is a treat for the students.
Once the sap is collected in buckets, students take it home, and boil it with the help of their families, condensing the liquid, and placing it in recycled plastic bottles for storage.
It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup, so a large quantity must be collected. The boiled down sap is then put over a fire, where is it boiled further, and strained.
This unique learning experience, witnessed in its entirety by the Seven Generations students promotes working with the land, recycling, working with one another, and creates the sweet treat that is a household staple.