Want to get your kids interested in science and technology? Watching a sci-fi movie could be a great idea. But one Chinese father who took his daughters to watch The Wandering Earth went even further, drawing a set of illustrated explainers.

The Wandering Earth, based on a novella by Hugo Award-winning author Liu Cixin, is currently showing in Chinese and US theaters. It’s doing exceptionally well in China, having raked in nearly US$300 million in box office sales in a little more than a week, according to Box Office Mojo.

The Wandering Earth debuted in China on the first day of the Lunar New Year. (Picture: South China Morning Post)

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Sun is threatening our planet -- so the global government decides that the only way for humans to survive is to propel Earth out of the solar system.

The plot involves quite a bit of astronomy and planetary science, ideas that are difficult for Dr. Wang Yuanzhuo’s young daughters, aged 5 and 10, to grasp. So the Chinese Academy of Sciences researcher decided to explain those concepts with pictures. (It might seem excessive, but this is a guy who builds robots for his kids.)

We’re going to delve into a few light spoilers here, so you’ve been warned!

This picture explains the basic Wandering Earth plan, including why it takes so long for the Earth to reach a new home in Proxima Centauri -- because it’s more than 4 light-years away.

This drawing is about one of the key plot points, when the Earth is seized by Jupiter’s gravity. It explains to his kids why Jupiter has such a strong gravitational pull on the Earth.

This one explains why it’s dangerous for Earth to move increasingly close to Jupiter.

Wang shared a few of his illustrations with friends on WeChat, in case they want to explain the movie to their kids too, according to China Youth Daily. But to his surprise, they went viral on social media almost immediately.

State news outlets like People’s Daily picked up the story. Even The Wandering Earth’s director, Frant Gwo, shared it on Weibo -- where the hashtag #TheWanderingEarthHandDrawnExplainer has been viewed over 84 million times.

One popular comment said, “I wish my future daughter will have a dad like this.”

“Such a cool dad,” another wrote.

One lamented, “My husband only knows how to game.”

As for Wang, he said on Weibo,“I sincerely hope that The Wandering Earth will plant a ‘science seed’ in the hearts of the Chinese people, especially youngsters.”  

But there’s also one regret:

“If I knew (this would go viral), I would have written more neatly.”