Congratulations to MHS Ecology, which placed 1st in Dark Robust (Hobby Class) and 4th in Golden Delicate (Hobby Class) at the 92nd year of The Geauga County Maple Festival! This is MHS Ecology’s third year competing at this festival.
The maple syrup curriculum is part of Ecology 2 classes; this year, 25 students participated. This was the first year MHS Ecology competed in the Dark Robust (Hobby Class), and students were excited to place first. This was the third year students competed in the Golden Delicate (Hobby Class); in 2019, MHS Ecology placed 1st and in 2021 placed 2nd. Syrups are scored in four categories:
- Brix or Percent Sugar – Students use a combination of hydrometers and refractometers to determine this (66.7 is ideal). This is one of the more challenging parts of the contest as being off by 0.1 can be the difference between placings.
- Clarity – Assesses how well the syrup was filtered to remove Niter, or minerals found in the sap. Students had to filter four separate times this year in hopes for crystal clarity of the syrup.
- Color – Each category (Golden Delicate, Amber, Dark Robust) has a standard color your samples have to match exactly.
- Taste – Judges determine if the flavor is ideal for the category: Golden Delicate should be buttery; Amber should be buttery with maple; Dark Robust should be strongly maple.
In addition to their success at The Geauga County Maple Festival, MHS Ecology students are working on the “Sugar Bush,” a project that showcases maple syrup. Ecology students will continue to participate in tapping, harvesting, processing, and bottling of maple syrup from trees located on our campus as a genuine practice in sustainability. These activities help students to have a more genuine understanding of those resources provided by our local environment. Students explore the science behind processing maple syrup as it relates to plant anatomy and physiology, specific gravity, Brix, and the bottling process.
Students will continue to work in partnership with the Madison Public Library to design and engrave the syrup bottles with our Madison logo. The revenue from our syrup sales has been used to expand our maple sugaring capacity and supports additional ecology projects throughout our district.