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Mike Horn Wins Linzer Award

February 13, 2023
Michael Horn
“Code gives us an elegant language to think about musical ideas,” says Horn.

Northwestern University’s Michael Horn received the 2023 Daniel Linzer Award for Faculty Excellence in Diversity and Equity for finding creative ways to make coding fun and accessible.

Horn, a professor of learning sciences at the School of Education and Social Policy and of computer science at the McCormick School of Engineering, created TunePad, a website and free app that allows users to create musical compositions via the computer programming language Python.

Several youth programs in Evanston and Chicago have incorporated TunePad to welcome underrepresented students into computer science. It’s also used with a computer science summer camp program that Horn developed for K-12 students.

“Code gives us an elegant language to think about musical ideas,” Horn said. “Music is a great way to learn core programming concepts. They reinforce each other in surprising and potent ways that open new creative opportunities.”

Horn, director of the Tangible Interaction Design and Learning (TIDAL) Lab, is the program coordinator for the Learning Sciences doctoral program. He also is co-founder of the joint doctoral program in computer science and learning sciences between the School of Education and Social Policy and the McCormick School of Engineering.

Last year, Horn’s TunePad received a National Science Foundation grant to study coding, music, art, and the programming language Python with the McGaw YMCA’s MetaMedia program in Evanston, Ill. His book, Introduction to Digital Music with Python: Learning Music with Code, is designed to give beginners a foundation in music and code.

Northwestern’s Office of the Provost created the award to celebrate people or groups who help build a more diverse, inclusive, and fair climate on campus. The award also recognizes those who help enhance diversity across the spectrum, including race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, age, and political affiliation.

Horn is the School of Education and Social Policy’s second winner; Marcelo Worsley, assistant professor of learning sciences and computer science, received it in 2019 for his inclusive work in science, engineering technology and math.

Horn shares the award with Elizabeth Addington, assistant professor of medical social sciences in Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Addington is the founding co-chair of the Medical Social Science Inclusion, Diversity, Engagement, and Action committee, which formed in 2020.

Horn and Addington will be recognized at a spring ceremony and awarded $5,000 each for their commitment to diversity in their fields.

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