Maple as STEM – PAST Party

We had an opportunity to table as an Experience Partner at the PAST Foundation‘s STEM of Spirits event this past Friday evening.  What a wonderful event and chance to showcase maple as a local food that supports local communities and is full of elegant and interesting science!

We chose a couple engaging angles to highlight the STEM of maple syrup to our guests.  Attendees learned about the differences in cancer fighting properties between early season Golden Delicate syrup as compared to later season Dark Robust profiles.  An informal poll of taste preference ended in a dead heat with the exact same number of people preferring Golden Delicate as Dark Robust.  Each syrup has its own medical benefits (Read more in our September ’23 Maple REVIEW article), and participants decided the only rationale response was to consume copious amounts of both!  Smart folks.

Another activity invited guests to use a sap hydrometer, digital refractometer, and traditional refractometer to calculate Brix of “sap” from 3 different maple trees.  One tree was a healthy full-crowned sugar maple.  The second was a stressed sugar maple.  A healthy “rilver” represented tree number 3.  A graduated cylinder varied sap output volume, and sap Brix varied by tree species and tree health.  A dry erase marker to record data on the tree canopies and some quick calculations to estimate final syrup output, and we transformed the evening’s guests into researchers.  The quick study’s results suggested that while maple species does matter, managing for healthy trees and forests is the highest priority for maple producers – regardless of maple species composition.

A bit of information about spotted lanternfly and some visuals to help showcase Jones Rule and the boiling process rounded out the display.  We’re excited to see Ohio State Maple continue to build momentum as we continue to expand our maple education and outreach footprint.