Catherine with her two oldest children 1953

Serving schools in New York City

Catherine Raia
Catherine and Alfonso Raia 1947

The Catherine Raia Mini Scholar Program  started in 1985, as a literary contest for 5th grade students in New York (Staten Island, Brooklyn). The scholar program is named in honor of Catherine Raia (at the bequest of Alfonso Raia, her husband). After immigrating from Italy (Island of Ponza) in the 1930's, she spent her life on Staten Island, New York. She devoted her later years in helping students enjoy learning through reading and writing.


 Criteria: Science is important in our everyday lives. Students can enter by submitting a 1-2 page essay or poem about "Science is Important." The style is up to the students, but judges will be looking for originality and creativity. Drawings may decorate the entry.

LITERARY COMPETITION FOR 2013 (had been canceled due to superstorm Sandy)

Mr. Raia's House was destroyed in October, so we have temporary suspended the competition.

  1. Competition is opened to 5th or 6th grade students in selected elementary schools (whichever is the highest grade).  Materials will be mailed to schools in early 2014.

  2. There must be a minimum of 15 entries per class (exceptions may be granted.)

  3. Entries must be completed in pen or pencil on the paper provided. Entries will become property of the Math/Science Nucleus.

  4. All entries are due by APRIL 15, 2014. Awards will be announced in May, depending on the individual schools. If schools want an early award time, please notify the Math/Science Nucleus.


  1. Judging will be done by scientists at the Math/Science Nucleus.

  2. Judges decisions are final. Judges will look for content, spelling, appropriateness of essay to the subject. Neatness and artistic ability will also be considered.


First place winners will receive  a science prize per class. There will also be a 2nd and 3rd place prize. All student entries will receive a small science gift. Awards will be announced in May, 2013. 


All entries must include the student's full name, home address, school and teacher's name. Please print in pencil in the back of each entry. All entries should be mailed to the Math/Science Nucleus at the address above. Any questions please contact Dr. Joyce Blueford by phone (510) 790-6284 , fax (510) 790-6089, or email at   or Claire Dogery on Staten Island (718) 984-3488.

There have been over 70,000 students who have competed in this contest.  If interested read the guidelines and then email us a message.

  • "Science is important because without it our society would have remained primitive." writes Glenn Hill of PS 114 from Brooklyn, New York. "In my opinion science is the world!

  • The world of science is wide and wonderful." writes Candida Bologna, of PS 1 of Staten Island, New York.

  • Many students elegantly write that science is an integral part of our world. Matthew Zangwill, of PS 23 states that "Science is important because without it we would not have many valuable things that are so important to us in our lives." 

  • "Science is important because it has solutions to many things." (Nancy Panarese, PS 23, Staten Island, New York.)