Learning Module

Maple Sugaring in a Warming Climate

As an agricultural practice with Indigenous origins, maple sugaring has been a tradition throughout the Northeast for thousands of years. How is climate change impacting maple syrup production and what can we do to plan for a climate resilient future in the region?


Learning Outcomes

  • How are changing weather patterns affecting the flow of sap?
  • What does this mean for maple syrup producers in the Northeast and how can they prepare?

Time Estimate
11 to 15 class periods


This module focuses specifically on the impacts of changing weather patterns on the production of maple syrup in Northern New England using region-specific climate data. We recommend pairing this study with units focused on the causes, effects and possible responses to climate change, and other existing curriculum related to maple sugar, including in-class maple syrup production. It can also complement ongoing learning about Maine’s Wabanaki communities. Extensions and pairing ideas are included in the Teacher's Guide.

Lessons are designed with middle school students in mind with opportunities to adapt learning activities for older and younger students.

Lesson 1: From Sap to Syrup

Students taste maple syrup and work together to outline how maple syrup is produced while considering the role of air temperatures in this process.

Lesson Slides | Maple production cards | Maple Syrup Production Diagram Directions | Teacher Guide

Lesson 2: Analyzing Freeze/Thaw Cycles

Students analyze temperature data from Portland, Bangor and Quebec City to identify ideal times for sap to run, compare trends in the data and begin to make connections between warming temperatures and changes to maple syrup production in the region. Students are also introduced to the idea of variability.

Lesson Slides | Freeze/Thaw Patterns Analysis Paper | Number of Freeze/Thaw Days Handout | Teacher Guide

Lesson 3: Sap on the Run! Modeling Maple Sugar Production

Students embody steps involved with maple syrup production while playing a modeling game and explore how normal variability impacts the timing of the maple season.

Lesson Slide | Jackman Freeze/Thaw Data | Maple Sugar Production Modeling Game Notes | 20th Century Game Cards | Teacher Guide

Lesson 4: Analyzing Warming Trends

Students analyze and interpret data at stations using dot plots, color-coded maps and video interviews to understand how warming temperatures and shifting ranges impact maple syrup production in the region.

Lesson Slides | Analyzing Warming Trends Handout | Analysis Stations Materials | Teacher Guide

Lesson 5: Modeling Maple Sugar Production in a Warmer Climate

Students repeat the modeling activity from Lesson 3, adding new elements to reflect the potential impacts of climate-driven temperature changes on maple syrup production.

Lesson Slides | Maple Sugar Production Modeling Game Notes - 21st Century | 21st Century Game Cards | Teacher Guide

Lesson 6: Planning for Maple Sugaring in a Warmer Future

Students develop a proposal for a new maple syrup production company that can be successful in a warming climate. Students will need to convince investors that their proposal is a good investment using data about anticipated climate-driven changes and incorporating strategies that will help their business thrive.

Lesson Slides | Maple Syrup Business Proposal Planner | Maple Business Planning Resources | Investor Funding Rubric | Teacher Guide