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Welcome to NWA Space!


Welcome to NWA Space!

What's Happening

Here's what we have been up to!

What's Happening

Here's what we have been up to!

NWA Space announces partnership with City of Lowell

Science center will be built west of Interstate 49

A science center housing one of the largest telescopes on North America will be built in Lowell’s Kathleen Johnson Memorial Park.

The Lowell City Council approved the plan during a meeting Tuesday night.

Tentative science exhibits include metal that melts in your palm, rocks that give off radiation, a large-dome planetarium, a copper tube and magnet to generate electricity, Science on a Sphere® to display data about the Earth, Moon and other planets, and robotics labs to build and practice with robots small and large.

NWA Space — a nonprofit working to popularize science in the region — received approval from the Lowell City Council to move forward on a plan for a long-term lease of 20 acres in the park, which is just west of I-49 at exit 78, explained Katherine Auld, chair of the NWA Space board of directors. 

Lowell Mayor Eldon Long quickly got the ball rolling in January, when NWA Space board members approached him about the partnership.

“This is undoubtedly one of the most exciting projects to come to this region,” Long said. “And for Lowell to host the future NWA Space observatory anchored within the Kathleen Johnson Memorial Park is huge! 

“This facility will not only be educational, but also fun for every generation to enjoy. The project has all the unique qualities that the park advisory committee has predetermined to attract the public and create an atmosphere that promotes an outdoor community gathering place,” Long said. “When you combine this with our future museum, our farmers market, the veterans memorial and walkway, the disc golf course, and the Razorback Greenway extension and trailhead, this will be a unique park that people will want to come to and spend the day while growing relationships with friends and family. We are excited about these coming attractions becoming a destination point that will be appreciated by the entire community. I want to be first in line to gaze at the stars through this mammoth telescope.”

Development of a Master Plan for the center has commenced. The NWA Space board has solicited proposals from a number of architectural firms. The board will soon launch into fund-raising campaign.

Based on the agreement with the City of Lowell, the planning phase needs to be completed within six months and construction should be finished two years after that, explained Auld.

The first 10 acres, Phase I, will include several items. The initial showpiece of the science center will be an observatory approximately 50 feet in diameter to house the historic telescope tied as the sixth largest refracting telescope in North America. The telescope, currently stored in Bentonville while undergoing restoration, was built in 1909 for Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia, PA. It was transported to NWA last year through the efforts of NWA Space in partnership with Airways Freight of Fayetteville and Explore Scientific of Springdale.

The Phase I building will include offices, a stocked chemistry/science classroom for summer camps and demonstrations, and storage areas. 

Outside the building, a Stonehenge recreation will be designed for this latitude. Stonehenge was used to monitor the passage of seasons using the motion of the Sun. This feature will be built to match the motions of the Sun in Northwest Arkansas in order to learn astronomy as well as link the ways ancient cultures used science to improve their lives to how science improves our lives today. 

“One of my favorite features of the outdoor facilities in Phase I will be a solar system walk, which is a scale model of the solar system large enough to walk to the various planets,” explains Clint Branham, vice chair of the board of NWA Space. 

Phase II, covering a second 10 acres, will include adding a 100-seat planetarium, Science on a Sphere®, robotics and 3D printing labs. 

“We envision a center where people of all ages will find inspiration in the arenas of science, engineering and design by visiting our triple dueling spheres: an observatory for the telescope, a state-of-the art digital planetarium dome, and the Science on a Sphere®,” Auld said.

“From sidewalk astronomy and donating telescopes to area libraries, to hosting science-themed summer camps and birthday parties, NWA Space is dedicated to providing easily accessible science right here in Northwest Arkansas,” Auld said. 

“The vision is a campus — spread across an estimated 120,000-square-feet under roof, with additional acreage for outdoor green classrooms, with fully stocked exploration spaces offering both demonstrations and hands-on learning opportunities in physics, chemistry, and engineering,” Auld said. “We want to engage, teach and inspire all ages.”

 “Lowell is a perfect match for our vision because it is in the center of the Northwest Arkansas region. The Kathleen Johnson Memorial Park is close to both the Razorback Regional Greenway and I-49,” Auld said. “The city has been so helpful in moving our dream toward reality.”

“Our region is already noted for being a wonderful place to work and live. This center will bring Northwest Arkansas into the national spotlight once again. Lowell will be the home of a science center branching into a wide array of educational opportunities — astronomy, geology, robotics, computers, chemistry, physics, along with technology avenues,” Auld said.

For more information on NWA Space and to learn about volunteer opportunities or to donate to the dream, visit (the name is the URL, and there is no need to put .com on that).


In 2011 Mr. Leonard Johnson went into City Hall asking to meet with Mayor Long about donating the land and property he and his wife had owned since 1963 to the City of Lowell. The property, located at 307 Bellview Road in Lowell, consists of 99.32 acres. He proposed the land be used to create a city park that can be used only by non-profit, community-minded organizations. Johnson asked that the City name the park after his beloved wife, Kathleen Johnson, who passed away in 2010. Mr. Johnson subsequently passed away in 2015. 

Through his trustees, Darrell Armstrong and Bill Brandt, the Johnson Trust has generously donated much to the people of Lowell and the region, including $1 million to the Arkansas Children's Northwest Hospital, $1.1 million to the City of Lowell for the new Fire Station (which sits on the corner of Kathleen Johnson Memorial Park, and every year the Kathleen Johnson Legacy Scholarship is given to two graduating High School students from Lowell. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson truly loved the community in which they worked and lived.


Lowell, a growing community of approximately 10,000, lies 13 miles north of Fayetteville and 12 miles east of Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. Lying only three miles south of Pinnacle Hills Promenade, Lowell is home to J.B. Hunt Transport, Arvest Bank Operations, Transplace, and now NWA Space. 

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What We Do

Our goal is to inspire a lifelong love of learning in the people of Northwest Arkansas by supporting S.T.E.M education and by providing an easily accessible, vibrant, interesting and ever-changing place for Northwest Arkansas residents and visitors to explore discoveries in space exploration, science, technology, engineering, and math.

What We Do

Our goal is to inspire a lifelong love of learning in the people of Northwest Arkansas by supporting S.T.E.M education and by providing an easily accessible, vibrant, interesting and ever-changing place for Northwest Arkansas residents and visitors to explore discoveries in space exploration, science, technology, engineering, and math.

Our cause

NWA Space is a Science Outreach Non-Profit that is dedicated to lighting hearts afire for education and careers in S.T.EM. (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) fields. 


Community Involvement

From sidewalk astronomy to donating telescopes to area libraries, NWA Space is dedicated to providing easily accessible science education and entertainment right here in Northwest Arkansas! Click to learn more about upcoming outreach events! 


Giant Telescope Project

That's right- Northwest Arkansas is now home to one of the largest refracting telescopes in the whole world!  Learn more about our journey with the restoration process of this colossal piece of science history and find out how you can help bring this beauty back to life!


Our Vision

NWA Space has a dream to build a much-needed, fun, vibrant Science Center for Northwest Arkansas Residents to enjoy! The facility will house the Giant Telescope, a planetarium, an observatory and much more! Learn more about this amazing endeavor and how you can support this wonderful cause!


Contact Information

Contact Information