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Open the Taps, Close with Pickles


Nearly 300 Lowell Area Schools’ second grade students visited the Wittenbach/Wege Agriscience and Environmental Education Center in March to learn about maple syrup.

During their visit, the students visited three stations: Native Americans, early settlers and maple tree biology. At the Native American station, naturalists explained how Native Americans discovered, harvested and used maple sap, and how they may have used hot rocks or clay post to boil the sap and create maple sugar. Students sampled maple sugar and tried out Native American games.

At the center’s log cabin, second-graders learned how early settlers would have tapped trees, collected sap and turned it into maple syrup. They also sampled warm maple syrup over ice, fresh baked donuts and dill pickles, used by those who work in the sugar bush to satisfy salt cravings after working with sugar for long periods.

Inside the center, students learned about tree identification, trunk layers such as the heartwood, sapwood, phloem, xylem cambium and bark, and how each part functions to bring sap.

The study of plants is a component of the second grade science curriculum. The maple syrup visit also reinforced students’ fall tree identification study trip.

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Wittenbach Wege Center

Second-graders listen to naturalist Shannon Goodwin describe how Native Americans made tools from rocks and carved sticks

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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