Teacher Karen Wilson of Meroby Elementary School in Mexico helps kindergartner Spencer Milligan turn the cider press as Paige Dupuis gets ready to add an apple Friday in celebration of Johnny Appleseed Day. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times Buy this Photo

MEXICO — Meroby Elementary School students celebrated Johnny Appleseed Day on Friday by pressing apples they brought from home and sampling the sweet cider squeezed from them.

The activity was a culmination of two weeks of lessons in science, technology, engineering and math.

“We were just trying to incorporate some literacy and engagement kind of activities,” Principal Kim Fuller said.

After learning that math coach Karen Wilson had an apple press and Johnny Appleseed’s birthday was Sept. 26, 1774, it was decided to focus activities on apples.

Maggie Corlett’s kindergartners got tips from Wilson about her apple press before they were assigned tasks of washing and placing apples in it and taking turns helping her turn the crank.

“They’re fascinated by it,” Wilson said. “They’re having a good time, which was a goal.”

The class learned the discarded pulp would go to their teacher’s animals, which include a horse, a donkey, a pig and some sheep.

“Yes, we’re collecting for my critters,” Corlett said.

Fourth grade teacher Sean Scribner gathered the following list of the activities in each grade:

• Kindergarten: Learning about apples trees and season changes, making applesauce from the apple trees on their playground, and making apple stamps.

• Grade 1: Labeling parts of the apple, learning the life cycle of an apple and visiting an apple orchard.

• Grade 2: Learning about Johnny Appleseed and writing their own Johnny Appleseed tall tales, taste-testing apples and graphing results.

• Grade 3: Making applesauce and discussing how fractions are used in baking, investigating apple trees and noting observations and creating an apple craft.

• Grade 4: Taste-testing different varieties of apples, recording data such as favorite apple, rating sweet vs. sour, firm vs. soft, juicy vs. dry, and displaying data in graphs, writing a list of adjectives to describe apples and using as many of them as possible in an apple poem.

• After-school program: Making apple volcanoes, having an apple tower challenge using toothpicks, and doing the University of Maine Extention Service’s 4-H Brown Apple Project to explore the chemical reaction behind apple browning.

In addition, an educational technician and her student designed an apple bulletin board in front of the office and made foods with apples.

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