Question Sheet: Sweet, Sticky Science


Before reading:

  1. How do people make maple syrup?
  2. What’s the difference between syrup and sap that comes from maple trees?
  3. In which parts of the United States do people produce maple syrup?

During reading:

  1. Brian Chabot says, “Essentially, there is nothing about the way we produce

    syrup now that is anything like it was 100 years ago.” What has changed in the

    way people produce syrup?

  2. Why do trees in the north produce the best sap for syrup making?
  3. At what time of year do people make syrup?
  4. Scientists are working to improve the trees from which maple syrup is

    produced. What specific improvements are they trying to make?

  5. Describe how a vacuum changes the process of making syrup.
  6. Why is global warming a problem for maple syrup producers?

After reading:

  1. Is improving the maple syrup process science? Why or why not?
  2. Why is it important to make maple syrup production more scientific?
  3. Why would heated gutters be more efficient than kettles to boil down sap?
  4. How would you design an experiment to learn more about which maple syrups

    taste best?

  5. Compare the production of granulated sugar to that of maple syrup. Does

    knowing about the process of making these sweet treats change which one you

    prefer? Why or why not?

  6. Why do you think many restaurants use artificial maple syrup? What is in

    artificial syrups?


We know that maple syrup comes from cold climates. Why do you think there is not more maple syrup production in Alaska or northern Canada?


  1. At the bottom of the article is a list of Web sites about maple syrup. Take

    some time to look at two of the sites listed. Write a review of what is good and

    bad about the Web sites. Compare the different ways the sites look and the

    information they give. Which site would you recommend? Why?

  2. The Canadian flag contains an image of a maple leaf. Why is the maple tree

    important to Canadian culture?


  1. If 40 gallons of sap are needed to make 1 gallon of maple syrup, and 1.5

    million gallons of syrup are produced every year in the United States, then how

    many gallons of sap are converted into syrup?

  2. If a gallon of syrup costs $30, then how much is each gallon of sap worth at

    the end of the process?