Johnsville Centrifuge & Science Museum: STEM Advocate Before STEM Even Stemmed

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kids at space display
Image via the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum.
STEM education is now a major part of the mission statement at the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum.

Warminster’s Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum — a large supporter of STEM curricula (science, technology, education, and math) — sits upon the site of the former Naval Air Development Center (NADC). The NADC, active 1940s–1990s, included both astronaut training and scientific research, a legacy worth preserving. A Times Publishing staff report described an upcoming opportunity to support that mission.

The NADC began when the Warminster plot it occupies was open fields. In 1941, an onsite aircraft factory, which supplied World War II Navy bombers, experienced difficulties. To maintain wartime production, the Navy began supervising operations there and eventually took over production itself.

In the postwar years, the enterprise evolved into a research and development hub. At one time 31 laboratories operated in Warminster, innovating technology related to specialties from submarine detection to aircraft instrumentation.

A centrifuge — the world’s largest — was completed in 1949. Its role in flight training for pilots and eventually astronauts helped the U.S. win the space race, and it was used until 2004.

The location today maintains all that scientific backstory, fully embracing local STEM education efforts.

To continue its work (and fund a museum refresh), Johnsville is hosting a Titanic-themed fundraising dinner on April 9 at Spring Mill Country Club and Manor in Ivyland.

The connection to the famed ocean liner becomes clearer given this historical insight: The discovery of the Titanic wreckage was made possible using SONAR technology devised by the NADC.

More on the museum and its fundraiser is at Times Publishing.

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