Fans of webcomic XKCD will be well aware how lucidly its creator, former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe, can explain complicated ideas using just stick figures and dialogue. Well now Munroe's skills are going to be put to use in classrooms around America, with publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) announcing that illustrations from his work will be published in their forthcoming textbooks.
illustrations like "Bags of Stuff Inside You (The Human Torso)"
The 2017 editions of HMH Chemistry, HMH Biology, and HMH Physics will all feature content from Thing Explainer — Munroe's 2015 book that described everything from the Saturn V rocket to tectonic plates using only the 1,000 most common English words. Illustrations to appear in the textbooks will include The Pieces Everything is Made of (aka The Periodic Table), Bags of Stuff Inside You (The Human Torso), and Heavy Metal Power Buildings (Nuclear Reactors). HMH has also commissioned Munroe to create new illustrations and animations of existing Thing Explainer pieces for "brand new series of science programs for the 2017-18 school year."
Munroe told The New York Times that he hoped his work might break up the monotony of the typical textbook. "I’m hoping it will be, ‘Oh, here’s a kind of fun and unexpected component,'" he told the publication. In a press statement, Peggy Smith-Herbst of HMH said that Munroe's work would "elevate our curriculum" and "engage students." Or to put it more simply, it'll make science fun. You can click here to see some examples pages from HMH's textbooks.