Agriscience Tree Sap 2011 by xVQc3lWw


March 30, 2011

  Career Center Students Tapping Trees to Make Syrup
JACKSON, Mich. – Do only maple trees produce useful sap? What would happen if you
tapped cherry, birch, or poplar trees?

Columbia Central senior McKenzie Schissler was curious, so she took the lead on a
Career Center Agriscience project that gathers sap from trees on school grounds to find
answers to these questions.

“My interest in this project started when we had some visitors do a demonstration on
sugaring and making syrup,” said Schissler. “I was like, we have maple trees, why don’t
we try this here?”

The project began in early March. Using plastic spigots and tubing, six trees have been
tapped near the classroom. Maple, birch, poplar, and black cherry sap is flowing into
plastic collection containers. The containers are checked daily. When full, the containers
are placed in the classroom cooler to keep them fresh until enough sap can be collected
for making syrup.

For maple trees, it takes about 40 parts of sap to make one part of syrup. For birch trees
the ratio is 100:1. Cherry and poplar … well that is being analyzed by the Career Center

“The sap to syrup ratio is only one of the things the students will learn by this project,”
said Liz Tomac, the Career Center’s Agriscience instructor. “Once the sapping
collecting process is finished – when the temperature is above 38 degrees consistently –
the students will make syrup and do some comparative taste testing.”

“It’s going to be cool to tell everyone we made syrup here at the Career Center,” said

After visiting the Career Center during her sophomore year, Schissler knew Agriscience
was the class for her.

“With all the outdoor classroom activities, I knew I wouldn’t be sitting at a desk, and that
appealed to me,” said Schissler.

Results of this project are a few weeks away, but one thing is sure: Schissler and other
Career Center Agriscience students are in an exciting and exploratory class where
learning takes place on live trees, plants, and animals. Who knows, they might just tap
into a medical breakthrough, new adhesive, or a creative snack food!

Photo and caption:
Columbia Central’s McKenzie Schissler, a senior in the Career Center’s Agriscience
class, gathers a sap container from a maple tree for making syrup.


Elizabeth Tomac
Agriscience Instructor
Jackson Area Career Center
(517) 768-5107

Cindy Lyons
Communications and Career Prep Coordinator
Jackson Area Career Center
(517) 768-5211

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