Polygence blog / Research Opportunities and Ideas

Fun Project Ideas That Are Not Just Writing a Research Paper

6 minute read

Most students find themselves standing at the crossroads of high school, caught between the desire to stand out and the safety of conformity. A common choice for Polygence students is the classic research paper—a reliable option that doesn't demand too much deviation from the norm. 

Yet, why settle for the ordinary when the high school years present a golden opportunity for exploration and innovation? By engaging in unique projects, high school students not only distinguish themselves on university applications but also embark on a journey of self-discovery and skill development. Beyond the conventional research paper, here are ten exciting high school project ideas (some of which my students have worked on) that can leave a lasting impression on both students and university admission officers.

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#1 Interactive Storytelling 

Interactive storytelling is important because it transforms passive audiences into active participants, creating a more engaging and personalized experience. Unlike traditional storytelling, where the narrative is fixed, interactive storytelling allows individuals to make choices that influence the direction of the story. This not only captivates the audience but also empowers them to shape their own unique journey within the narrative. 

Storytelling can be told in a multitude of ways, ranging from books and videos to other multimedia-rich experiences. Whether through mobile apps, online platforms, or even virtual reality, the flexibility of interactive storytelling opens doors for endless possibilities, making it a powerful tool for communication, education, and entertainment.

Below are a few ways you can tell your story while pursuing your project-based learning:

Create an app

Creating an Interactive Storytelling app is like bringing a choose-your-own-adventure book to life but on your phone! You get to be the author and the reader, making the story go in different directions based on your choices. This project lets you show off your creative side and tech skills (great for resumes!), making it perfect for the digital age where everyone loves cool and engaging content. An example of a similar passion project is with Polygence mentor, Chris and his student Rohil, who worked on a web app that gamifies algorithmic learning.

Podcasting

Ever thought about starting your own podcast? It's like having your own radio show where you can talk about things you love, share stories, or discuss important topics like passion project ideas, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or environmental science, to name just a very few. Podcasting is a fun way to improve your communication skills and let your personality shine. Plus, it's a unique way to connect with others in our connected world.

Fun Videos for Social Media

If you enjoy making short and snappy videos, diving into TikTok or YouTube could be your thing. You can share your hobbies and thoughts or even create fun educational clips. This project lets you express yourself creatively and reach a wide audience. It's all about having fun while showing off your skills in front of the camera.

Professional Network Blogging

One avenue to do this is via LinkedIn. It might sound like a platform for professionals, but it's also a space to tell your story. You can share your academic journey, professional development goals, and strengths. This project helps you understand the importance of having an online presence and shows you're ready to step into the professional world with confidence. My student, Taya M embarked on a journey to showcase her work on LinkedIn, as well as writing blog articles on nuclear science and engineering.

Photography Exhibition

Capture the essence of a theme or issue through photography and organize an exhibition. This project not only hones artistic skills but also emphasizes the power of visual storytelling, providing a unique way to express ideas and perspectives.

#2 Environmental Sustainability Campaign

Conducting research for an Environmental Sustainability Campaign involves a mix of understanding the issues at hand and identifying effective ways to address them. Begin by researching prevalent environmental challenges, such as deforestation, pollution, or climate change, to pinpoint specific issues you are passionate about tackling. Dive into reputable sources like scientific journals, environmental organizations, and government reports to gather data and insights. Once armed with knowledge, explore successful sustainability campaigns to learn from their strategies and outcomes. 

You can take a proactive stance on environmental issues by initiating a sustainability campaign at your high school or local community. From organizing tree-planting events to creating informative videos on eco-friendly practices, this research project demonstrates a commitment to social responsibility. 

3. Social Impact Blog

Launching a blog focused on social issues and solutions is an empowering endeavor that goes beyond the realms of traditional writing. To embark on this project, students can begin by identifying the social issues that resonate with their passions and concerns. The act of writing in a blog format provides a platform for self-expression, allowing students to hone their writing skills while exploring creative ways to convey complex ideas to a broader audience. It's not just about crafting compelling narratives; it's about becoming advocates for positive change. The blog becomes a virtual space where students can share their insights, experiences, and proposed solutions to address the identified social issues.

Moreover, this project is an exercise in cultivating a heightened awareness of global challenges. By researching and writing about diverse social issues, learners broaden their worldviews, fostering empathy and understanding of various perspectives. It encourages going beyond personal interest and critical thinking as they analyze the multifaceted nature of problems and consider innovative approaches to drive positive change.

4. Coding for a Cause

Develop a coding project that addresses a specific social or environmental challenge. For example, Polygence mentor Chris R is working with students like Ashmi. Ashmi's project involves creating a unique website, similar to meetup.com, with a special focus on individuals within the autism spectrum community. This platform aims to provide a space where people can both host and attend events catered specifically to the needs and interests of those on the autism spectrum, fostering inclusivity and community engagement. It exemplifies the power of coding in crafting solutions that cater to diverse and often overlooked communities, showcasing the positive impact technology can have on social and environmental challenges.

Chris’ extensive proficiency extends to open-source projects, exemplified by his notable contribution to Mycroft AI—a company dedicated to developing an open-source voice assistant comparable to Google Assistant and Siri. In his role, he played a crucial part in building out their smart-home framework, showcasing his hands-on experience and expertise in advancing innovative and inclusive technology solutions.

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5. Creating Engaging Workshop

One example could be developing and conducting workshops on personal finance for your fellow students. Empower your peers with essential financial literacy skills, showcasing leadership, communication, and the ability to contribute to the well-being of the community.

6. DIY Science Kits

Design and assemble do-it-yourself science experiment kits for elementary or middle school students. This hands-on project demonstrates a passion for science education and the ability to make complex concepts accessible to a younger audience. You can take inspiration from Crunch Labs by YouTube celebrity Mark Rober.

7. Build Robots, Drones or Quadcopters

If you're into science and engineering, why not dive into the world of building your own robots, drones, or quadcopters? My students have embraced this thrilling challenge, constructing their own quadcopters. Building these autonomous flying devices isn't just an educational experience; it's educating yourself about how things fly and recent technological innovations in this space. So, if you're ready for a hands-on adventure in science and engineering, let's build something incredible together! 

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Final Thoughts

By venturing beyond the confines of the traditional research paper, students have the opportunity to showcase their talents, passions, and innovative spirit, all while adding to their personal growth. These projects not only enhance university applications but also lay the foundation for a future where creativity, initiative, and a commitment to positive change are valued assets. 

So, why settle for the ordinary when the extraordinary awaits?