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Environmental Studies Passion Project Ideas for High School Students: Our Top 10

4 minute read

study of underwater environment

As our planet faces ever-increasing environmental challenges, there is a growing need for individuals who have the knowledge and the desire to make a positive impact on the environment.

High school students and their generation are in a unique position to learn about environmental science. Growing up in a world that is increasingly threatened by climate change, younger generations have a passion for learning more about the environment - they sense the urgency of the issue and want to take action.

A 2021 study by Deloitte found that climate change and environmental issues was the top concern for GenZ, ranking ahead of unemployment and healthcare. 

If you’re someone who is curious about the environment or seeking to pursue a passion project, check out some of our project ideas below!

Create a research project tailored to your interests and your schedule

Polygence pairs you with an expert mentor in your area of passion. Together, you work to create a high quality research project that is uniquely your own. We also offer options to explore multiple topics, or to showcase your final product!

Student exploring their passions

1) What triggers phytoplankton blooms off the Southern California coast?

Investigate the environmental factors that trigger the growth of microscopic algae, or phytoplankton, along the Southern California coastline. You will analyze publicly available datasets of physical, chemical, and biological data, including nutrient concentrations, temperature, and algae abundance, collected by scientists. Through statistical analysis, you will identify the key factors that influence phytoplankton blooms. 

2) The Ecology of Viruses

Dive into peer-reviewed scientific articles and discuss how changes to our planet might affect the dynamics of a virus of your choice. Can global warming really make pandemics more likely? If you're interested in applying to public or private agencies for fellowships or scholarships, this project is the perfect opportunity to showcase your talents and stand out from the crowd.

3) Wildfire impacts on forest regeneration and carbon storage

The devastating wildfires currently plaguing the United States are causing both ecological and economic damage. In this exciting project, learn how to use publicly available online resources, such as GIS databases of fire history and forest plot inventory, to analyze the effects of wildfires on seedling and sapling density. You can also learn/use R programming to perform basic statistical analyses and create stunning maps showcasing important information, such as fire frequency, vegetation, and carbon storage.

4) How to create a sustainable business

Interested in the intersection of sustainability and business? Review criteria for Environmental, Social, and Governance. Look at successful businesses with high scores and see how that could apply to a new company. Think through the product and overall business and create a presentation to pitch the company to investors.

5) What makes a weed, a weed?

Have you ever noticed how weeds manage to thrive in the most unexpected places without any care, while it can be quite challenging to keep a house plant alive? Explores the secrets of these resilient hitchhikers and uncover valuable insights that we can apply to our own plant care practices.

Your Project Your Schedule - Your Admissions Edge!

Register to get paired with one of our expert mentors and to get started on exploring your passions today! And give yourself the edge you need to move forward!

Sitting girl reading a book in the field

6) African rainfall and climate – responses to a warming world?

More than a billion people rely on the African monsoons as their primary water source, making it essential to comprehend how human caused global warming may impact rainfall patterns. Explore how environmental factors, such as ocean temperatures and wind direction/speed, impact African precipitation over time.

7) Fashion with a purpose-- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Interested in fashion design? The aim of this project is to promote awareness about climate change through fashion design. Use various materials such as trash, recyclables, repurposed items, and second-hand materials to create your own items that look great and are good for the environment! 

8) Research Paper on Species Invasion

A major cause of global biodiversity loss is the introduction of invasive species (such as lionfish and zebra mussels) outside of their natural habitats. Investigate a specific invasive species, and analyze: 1. the cause(s) of species introduction in a novel geographic region, 2. the environmental factors contributing to its success, and 3. how the invasive species impacts its new ecosystem.

9) Climate Change and Coral Reefs: What threats are our coral reefs facing?

Coral reefs are under multiple "stressors" including ocean acidification, global warming, pollution, and overfishing. How are these threats affecting coral reef ecosystems and what are the consequences of one or all of these "stressors"? What are some practical solutions that can help save our coral reefs? What groups, governments, or companies can get involved to help out?

10) Trash Talk: Ways to Reduce Laboratory Waste

Every year, laboratories produce 12 billion pounds of plastic waste. A great project would be to explore ways that laboratories can reduce plastic waste by using glass pipettes, recyclable gloves, or other equipment, while still ensuring the equipment is sterile.

These are just a few of the many project ideas that you can get started on. Projects like these can be very fulfilling and allow you to develop your passion for a particular topic, and help you make decisions like choosing your college major. Further, these projects offer a lot of flexibility in terms of what the final product can actually look like, and provide you a great edge in the college admissions process.

Want to Learn More?

Join Polygence and do your own research project tailored towards your passions and guided by one of our expert mentors!

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