Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
Written by Chris Barton, Illustrated by Don Tate

Publisher’s Summary:
You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of the top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem-solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

Primary Source Pairing:
According to his website, Lonnie Johnson holds 80 patents with over 20 patents pending. His desire to solve problems and his curiosity to develop new things have positively impacted his career as an inventor and a scientist. For this primary source pairing, take a closer look at Lonnie Jackson’s patent for the Super Soaker, which is called a “Toy water gun with air siphoning valve” in Patent # 5,850,941. The patent is seven pages long – you’ll find the link to the full document below.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • Is there any text you can read? What does it say?
  • Describe anything you see on the page besides words, such as images or decorations.
  • How is the text and other information arranged on the page?
  • Describe anything about this text that looks strange or unfamiliar.
  • What other details can you see?
  • Who do you think was its audience?
  • What is the purpose of this document?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
US Patent # 5,850,941: Toy water gun with air siphoning valve: http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov
Lonnie Johnson website: http://www.johnsonrd.com/ie/lj/ljprofile.html