Jakob Hooper collects some sap from the boiler pit while Gavin Mitchell (right) looks on. Mitchell had been stirring the sap. Bethel Citizen photo by Samuel Wheeler

BETHEL — Telstar students wrapped up their winter ecology unit this week, which culminated with them boiling sap behind the school’s greenhouse on Tuesday.

Throughout the duration of the unit, Local Ecology teacher Elke Blauss focused on teaching students about snow, avalanches and how to track in the snow, but then one student asked her if the unit would cover anything on tapping trees.

“I was like sure, let’s do that,” Blauss said. “We just kind of ran with it.”

Before students could even dive into the fun, though, they had to pitch their idea to the school. Students were divided into two groups, with one focusing on how the project was going to be proposed, while the other went over how the process would be done in a safe manner. The project ended up getting full support from Telstar Principal Mark Kenney and Dean of Students John Eliot.

“The students were very impressive when it came to brainstorming and putting together the proposal,” Blauss said of her class.

During class time, students tapped five trees out in front of Telstar over a two-week span, with weather cooperating with them for the most part.

On Tuesday, students took turns stirring the sap, which was boiled in a pan over a fire pit, also built by students. The weather was ideal throughout the day and by the end, 25 gallons of sap had been boiled.

In the afternoon, a few staff members along with some middle and high schoolers came and checked out the boiling process. Students were treated to samples of the sap, and if they asked a question to someone in the ecology class, they got ice cream, too. Eventually every student who wanted ice cream got it.

Blauss has small jars for each of her students so they can take home leftover sap if they want to.

Blauss’ class consists of sophomores, juniors and seniors and each student took away something from the process.

“I learned a lot about the tree side of things,” junior Bailey Fraser said. “I did not know how much maple syrup came out of maple trees. It was a very cool experience.”

“It was fun to get out and tap trees. It was a rewarding process and it tasted good,” sophomore Jakob Hooper said.

 

 

 

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