Bronzeville Children's Museum honors Lonnie Johnson, inventor of 'Super Soaker' kids' toy

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Saturday, February 17, 2024
Bronzeville Children's Museum honors inventor of 'Super Soaker'
For Black History Month 2024, the Bronzeville Children's Museum honored NASA aerospace engineer Lonnie Johnson, the inventor of the Super Soaker.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Song and music marked the beginning of Saturday's Black History Month celebration at the Bronzeville Children's Museum.

A diverse group of kids and their families enjoyed a two-hour long program hosted by the South Side museum, which happens to be the first and only African-American children's museum in the country.

Cynthia Brown attended the event with her 21-month old grandson Kato and his 5-year-old brother.

"I just think it's very important for kids as young as possible," Brown said. "Begin to expose them and continue to expose them is how they'll learn."

The afternoon event not only celebrated the culture of Black excellence, but the museum also honored Lonnie Johnson as apart of their ongoing exhibit encouraging students of color to participate in science and technology.

Johnson is an African-American NASA aerospace engineer who invented a popular kids' toy, the "Super Soaker," among other things. It has generated over a billion dollars in sales.

"We're not just talking about Lonnie with his toy, but we're also talking about the person who invented the cellphone that we don't really know he invented the cellphone," Bronzeville Children's Museum founder and president Peggy Montes said. "We're talking about the person that invented the refrigerated rail car."

Children learned about the inventor through crafts and storytelling.

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While Black History Month can be a time to reflect on the accomplishments of people of color, Albert Reese hopes it can become part of his family's tradition.

"Black history is very prevalent, and we need to know the history of our times," Reese said.

The day ended with the families creating their own version of some of Johnson's inventions.

Organizers hope the celebration and the learning will be taken back to the attendees' communities to use as a great foundation for the future.