Abbe Museum Educator, Jen Heindel, is a published author! Her article, An Interdisciplinary Approach to Drag Forces: Estimating Floodwater Speed from Displaced Riverbed Boulders, was just published in The Physics Teacher. The article is currently free online for a limited time.
The paper stems from an idea Jen had for an activity to include in the Front Range Flood curriculum she developed for Rocky Mountain National Park. Co-author Kenneth Pestka realized there was an opportunity to expand on the original idea to create an activity for introductory physics students. The outcome is an activity where physics students are asked to examine images of riverbed boulders after a flood and estimate the water velocity needed to carry the boulders downstream. The activity provides an opportunity for students to gain an understanding of the physics of natural phenomena with applications to environmental science and environmental engineering, to gain a stronger appreciation for physical modeling and estimation, and to become environmental detectives!