Inventor of the Best Kids Toy: Lonnie Johnson

Lonnie Johnson has had many great achievements in his lifetime. A child fueled by curiosity and science, Johnson grew up loving to invent. He went on to become an important member of the government scientific establishment in the Airforce, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and a pursuer of his own inventions leading to the birth of the Super Soaker and an engine seen to be in the first stages to low-cost solar power, the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter. Below is a list of fun facts about Johnson and a link to learn more!


Photography: Lonnie Johnson, CNN

  • As a high school student in 1968, Johnson had invented and submitted a robot into a science fair hosted by the University of Alabama’s Junior Engineering Technical Society. It was so impressive that they could not deny Johnson first place, making Johnson the only Black entrant and winner of that years fair.
  • Johnson was trying to design an ecologically friendly heat pump that utilised water when he accidently discovered the perfect kids toy, which subsequently became the renowned “Super Soaker.”
  • Johnson was part of NASA’s Galileo mission, which sent an unmanned craft to study Jupiter and the depths of space en route to the largest planet in the solar system.



This post is one of three honoring Black History Month and the Black excellence within STEM. Check out the other two posts linked below!

Immerse yourself in Black History

A STEM jack of all trades: Valerie Thomas