Popular XKCD Comics to Appear in High School Science Books

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Randall Munroe has had an interesting career. After earning a degree in physics he did robotics work for NASA before transitioning into web comics full time. Wait. What?

Yep, Munroe’s web comic, XKCD, is one of the most popular in the world. Munroe often breaks down complex scientific concepts in his comics in humorous ways.

Now it appears that science textbook creators have realized the potential to use some of these comics as science communication tools.

According to a New York Times article:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is also a textbook publishing giant, and editors in that division happened to see page proofs of “Thing Explainer,” which attempts to explain concepts like tectonic plates, cells and nuclear bombs using just the thousand most common words in English.

“We just all had an a-ha moment,” said Peggy Smith-Herbst, the senior vice president who oversees content development for science and mathematics. “We always knew we wanted to work with him.”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced on Tuesday that it was collaborating with Mr. Munroe to incorporate parts of “Thing Explainer” into the next editions of its high school chemistry, biology and physics textbooks, to be published this summer. “It’s a way of deepening the engagement level for students,” Ms. Smith-Herbst said.

Where were these books when I was in school?