- 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?
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 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 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 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 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 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.