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Learning the Sap-to-Syrup Process

 

In the latter half of January in southern Ohio you may notice maple trees with small metal buckets attached. The buckets are collecting sap from maple trees to be used in making maple syrup.

Students from LGS’s 4th through 8th grades recently made a trip to Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford, Ohio, to learn more about the process, even helping to collect sap and then enjoying the warmth of the evaporate and the maple-scented room.

Maple trees, specifically sugar maples, are among the most common Ohio trees. In late winter and early spring, maple trees begin “sap flow”: ground water mixes with the sugar in the tree and produces a clear liquid called sap.

Maple syrup producers “tap” the trees by drilling a small hole into the trunk and inserting a small tap. A bucket is hung underneath the tap to catch the sap as it flows from the tree.

Depending on the age and health of the tree and the weather conditions, each maple tree can produce between 10 and 20 gallons of sap.

It takes 40 gallons of sap to create just one gallon of maple syrup.

To make the syrup, the sap is collected and poured into a large evaporator, a large stainless steel box over a large heat source, which essentially boils the sap, removing water until it reaches a syrup consistency.

The trip to the Cincinnati Nature Center offered a great opportunity for learning and for spending time out of doors. The only thing missing were the pancakes!

Electrons Will Travel

Electrons will travel – given a source and a circuit.

That’s what Ms. Sparling’s 4-6 team science students are learning through a series of hands-on activities using batteries, wires, light bulbs, switches and more.

An electric circuit is an electric current – made up of electrons moving in a path – that flows continuously. It is formed with components consisting of conductors (most often wires) and a power source (such as a battery) and may also include load elements (like light bulbs.) Another important component is an insulator. Insulators protect people and other things from the harmful electric current flowing through a wire. Insulators are usually rubber, since rubber does not conduct electricity and is often used in insulated wires (aka rubber-wrapped wires.)

Ms. Sparling’s students first experienced the difference between open and closed circuits using a battery, insulated wires and a small light bulb. When the circuit was closed (with everything connected in a circle) the light bulb was lit; but when the circuit/circle was broken/open the light bulb went out.

Next students used critical thinking and problem solving skills to determine how to incorporate a switch into the circuit. (Ms. Sparling was available to help them attach wires to the switch, but the students needed to determine where the wires should be attached to create a closed circuit.)

The next step: exploring a series circuit versus a parallel circuit and how the brightness of the light bulb is affected.

Egg Drop Challenge

6-8 team science teachers organized an Egg Drop Challenge open to all LGS students.

The challenge: design an egg drop contraption that will keep an egg from breaking when dropped fifty feet from the top rung of a fire truck ladder.

Interested students were provided with a gallon-size zip bag, a large egg and a Dixie cup. Students also had access to a range of additional materials including cotton balls, paper towels, cardboard, straws, tape, toothpicks, packing peanuts and bubble wrap. All of the materials utilized were required to fit in the gallon zip bag.

Students could work individually or in teams to design a device that would distribute the energy such that the egg would not break when it hit the ground.

Of more than a dozen designs tested, two contraptions allowed eggs to be dropped without breaking:

(1) One packed the egg in a cardboard tube and cushioned it with foam, sponges and cotton balls.

(2) The second packed the egg in a Pringles can and similarly cushioned the egg with cotton and other materials.

Thanks to the 6-8 team science teachers – and the Sycamore Township Fire Department – for supporting an educational – and memorable – student project.

 

 

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