Lonnie George Johnson

Born: 6th October 1949

Birth Place: United States

Known for: Being an African American inventor and engineer.

Johnson has won many awards for his work as an inventor.

The Super Soaker is one of the best selling toys in the world.

He has an honorary Ph.D. in Science from Tuskegee University.

I have never really understood why in this country so many people look down on Black people.

Lonnie George Johnson

Life story


Early education


Lonnie George Johnson was the son of a World War II veteran. He learned about electricity from his father. At high school, he was the only Black student in a science fair, where he took home the first prize.


At this time, there were very few African Americans in the field of science. He got a degree in mechanical engineering, and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from Tuskegee University.


Popular invention


Johnson joined NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory in 1979, where he worked to develop a nuclear power source for Galileo’s mission to Jupiter and Cassini’s mission to Saturn. Johnson had the idea for the Super Soaker water gun while working at NASA, trying to come up with a heat pump that would use water instead of Freon, which is unfriendly to the environment. The Super Soaker went on to become incredibly popular, and has made sales of almost $1 billion.


Johnson also invented the Thermoelectric Energy Converter to convert solar energy into electric energy. Solar energy is energy that comes from the sun.

What popular toy did Johnson invent? Where did Johnson work on space missions? Where did Johnson get his degrees in engineering?

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