Sweet success, RCS eighth-graders place first in maple syrup contest

Eighth-graders in Jennifer Fisk-Jaskolka’s science class came out on top of the 2019 Schoolyard Sugaring Maple Contest, winning the middle school division with their maple syrup production. Students learned about the process of tapping trees during a tour of Collins Farm earlier this spring.

Outside in the woods, a teacher points at a spot on a tree as a small group of students looks onMiddle school teacher Kevin Reinisch, who also runs Crosstown Maple Company, led the tours and then allowed students to access to the Sugarbush and Sugar Shack to tap the trees at the farm and assist in the production of syrup. Groups of seventh and eighth grade students helped collect sap and decant the syrup, then submitted their syrup to the contest.

“The syrup tasters are serious people – like wine aficionados – and look for the subtleties in the flavors and notes of the syrup,” Fisk-Jaskolka said. “Our own Crosstown Maple beat out all the rest!”

The hands-on experience tied with science lessons create by Fisk-Jaskolka. Eighth-graders learned about compounds and mixtures and were tasked with creating a technique or device that could separate mixtures. When making syrup, Fisk-Jaskolka said, the water is separated from the sap, creating syrup. Seventh-graders studied photosynthesis, which Fisk-Jaskolka explains is what makes the sugar.

The district will receive prize money and the kids who participated will get free admission to the New York State Fair where the winning class will be recognized during an award ceremony.