Schools, communities celebrate STEM Week Oregon

Schools, communities and organizations across the state will take part May 2-10 in STEM Week Oregon, a statewide movement to raise awareness, celebrate and engage young people in learning science, technology, engineering and math.

There’s still time to get involved, by joining in an activity that’s already planned – or coming up with your own. Teachers and their students, parents and their children, community groups and businesses get ideas and register their events at .

Organizers also invite STEM professionals and companies to volunteer at local schools, talk about their careers and research, or host a field trip for students during the week. Colleges and universities, meanwhile, are invited to host STEM activities for students and the broader community, and encourage students and faculty to sign up with STEMOregon for more ways to get involved.

Winds drive jellyfish-like creatures onto Oregon beaches

Velella velella blown ashore by prevailing winds, Fort Stevens State Park, April 2015

Velella velella blown ashore by prevailing winds, Fort Stevens State Park, April 2015 (photo by Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)

Striking blue sea creatures, Velella velella, have washed up by the thousands on Oregon beaches including at Seaside, Manzanita, Astoria and Rockaway Beach in recent days, tourism officials report.

The small jellyfish-like animals normally live out at sea, floating on its surface. But every spring, thousands get blown by strong westerly winds onto the sands of Oregon, California and Washington and die, said Bill Hanshumaker, a senior instructor at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and chief scientist for Oregon Sea Grant.

When strong westerly winds blow over the Pacific coastline, Velella velella are swept by the thousands onto beaches including those at Seaside and Manzanita. They are often called By-the-wind Sailors, because they have their own small sails and move with the wind.

Velella velella (vuh-lell-uh vuh-lell-uh) can be beautiful to look at but start to give off a fishy smell as they decay. They don’t sting people who touch them, but experts at Oregon State University advise against walking barefoot through a pile of them because they contain a mild neurotoxin.

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