XKCD Will Soon Be Featured in the Science Textbooks of American High Schoolers

March 23, 2016 | Joanne Kennell

Photo credit: Hermann/Pixabay (CC0)

Lucky them!

Randall Munroe, the man behind the ever-so-popular webcomic XKCD, will soon have his amusing stick-figure diagrams and scientific explanations in the next editions of some American high school science and engineering textbooks.

Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) announced on Tuesday (March 22) that they will be using XKCD in the 2017 editions of their chemistry, biology, and physics textbooks, which will be published over the summer.

HMH published Monroe’s books, Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words and What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, both of which take a humorous approach to explaining several different fields of science. And since HMH also publishes a whole whack of textbooks, it just made sense to combine the two.

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“We just all had an a-ha moment,” Peggy Smith-Herbst, the senior vice president who oversees content development for science and mathematics, told The New York Times. “It’s a way of deepening the engagement level for students.”

The publishers will use some illustrations from Thing Explainer in the 2017 textbooks, but they have also commissioned some new illustrations for future editions — including one that explains how life bounces back after being wiped out by a natural disaster, Munroe told The New York Times.

“I love learning about the science that governs the Universe around us and want to share the delight of discovering how things work and why,” said Munroe. “I'm excited to have a chance to pass that excitement on to others.”

HMH has provided some examples of the comics that will be in the new textbooks. They include: “Bags of Stuff Inside You” (The Human Torso), “Lifting Room” (Elevators), and “US Space Team’s Up Goer Five” (Saturn 5). Take a look below.

Bags of Stuff Inside You, xkcd comic

Courtesy of HMH

Lifting Room. xkcd comic

Courtesy of HMH

Up Goer 5, xkcd comic

Courtesy of HMH

You  might also like: Thing Explainer: XKCD Author Explains Our Complicated World with 1000 Most Common Words

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