By night,
Eclipse Theaters, located in the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas, is an
upscale, concierge-style 4K cinema showing first-run movies, independent films,
and live music. But by day, these same theaters offer educational field trips
to area students as part of the Cinema Learning Challenge (CLC) program. CLC is the brainchild
of Tina Ratterman, founder and president of GSCA member BIG & Digital, a distributor of family-friendly, educational films and documentaries for museums, planetariums, and attractions. BIG & Digital's CLC program features museum-quality
films in theaters that don’t typically host educational screenings.


In addition
to the films, the program includes hands-on learning activities led by
scientists, lunch, and time for Q&A. The three-hour field trip provides students an experience beyond the classroom, connects them with
practicing scientists, and inspires them to consider future careers in STEM, art,
and more.

The most popular
CLC field trip is the #GirlsInSTEM and #GirlsInTECH Package, which is funded by
grants and organized by the Clark County School District (CCSD) Career &
Technology Education Office. As 100 middle school students and their
teachers pull up to the theater in coaches, they are greeted and then escorted
into two auditoriums to start the morning learning about space science. The
presenter is a scientist and outlines the plan for the morning. Then the lights
dim and Space Next comes on screen to introduce students to space
science technology, engineering, and the current science and advancements about
our solar system.

A hands-on
activity featuring the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) follows the
film. The BEAM is an experimental space station module being tested on the
International Space Station, and it supports the NASA advanced exploration
system objective to develop a deep space habitat for human missions beyond
Earth’s orbit. To reinforce the engineering aspect of these programs, students
make their own origami BEAM during the activity. Students are encouraged to
work together as they are led through the process step by step, with a DCP of
the BEAM video playing silently on the screen to guide them ( Lunch is then provided, followed by a screening of In
Saturn’s Rings
. The trip wraps up with a Q&A session, where students are
encouraged to ask the scientists questions not just about space science and
current events, but also about careers in science and how they are making their
own personal journey toward a career in science.

Aerospace is located in North Las Vegas, and their inflatables are seen in Space
,” explains Tina Ratterman.
“I started the CLC Program in Las Vegas to inspire students with films they
would not have the chance to see otherwise and to provide connections to STEM careers
in the community.”

Snehal Bhakta, with CCSD Career
& Technical Education, has brought more than 600 students to CLC events so
far and is bringing 16 groups to #GirlsInSTEM in Fall 2019 to watch the film Touch
the Stars
, which will be packaged with a visit on the same day to the
“Beyond Curie: A Celebration of Women in Science” Exhibit at the University of
Nevada-Las Vegas Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art. “I believe videos are this generation’s books,” Bhakta explains. “The movies open their minds to a world of opportunities
that are out there for them to explore.”

In addition to
space and STEM films, the CLC also offers a program featuring the film Watermelon
, connecting over 180 local elementary schools with gardens on school
property. The educational partner for this program’s
hands-on activity is Garden Farms Foundation, a local Las Vegas nonprofit
organization, whose experts help students plant watermelon seeds to take home
while learning how to grow together.


The activities for the CLC programs are
customized for groups depending on the film and student grade level to ensure
an enriching experience.

The CLC Program is officially part of CHOLLA
[Connecting Hands Offering Lifelong Learning Adventures–], the source for field trips in Las Vegas. The CLC team has also
participated in local STEM and professional development conferences for teachers, hosted educator screenings and more, helping the program to gain
awareness and credibility among Nevada education and school administrators. As
with most markets, paying for field trips and buses is a challenge for Las
Vegas-area schools, so special events, sponsorships, and grants are the primary
funding sources for the program.

Because of the program’s success, BIG &
Digital has plans to expand it to other markets and offer it in conjunction
with films that are not in the BIG & Digital distribution library.

For more information visit
or email Tina Ratterman at

and Thanks

Dr. Pamela Maher
and Dr. Kraig Knapp are featured scientists and presenters. Andromeda Hightower is the leading Doctorate Student
Presenter. Autumn St. John is the Program Intern. Dana Willoughby is the
Program Manager for BIG & Digital. Carol Wilhems is the Program Development
Director. Tina Ratterman is creator of the Cinema Learning Challenge Field Trip
Program. Theater Partner is Eclipse Theaters, co-owned by Rodney Chichester. He
and his team participate by hosting Educator Screenings and work with BIG &
Digital on every group visit with a gorgeous venue, excellent food and beverage,
and stunning image and sound quality for a perfect environment for learning
while having fun.