2,893 Inspirational Passion Project Ideas
Turn inspirations into your passion project.
This collection of project ideas, shared by Polygence mentors, is meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.
- Comp Sci
- Creative Writing
- Environmental Science
- Game Design
- Literature and Languages
- Organizational Leadership
- Public Health
- Social Science
- Sports Analytics
Poetic Cinema: the art of the moving image
Some people say the best films can be watched on mute and the plot will still be clear. The moving image is a powerful storytelling tool that has capacities beyond other mediums because it affords the artist 24 frames every second to catch a viewer's attention. In this project, you will make a short film with no dialogue and no music. How can you use just images to convey a feeling, a story, or a moment? Along the way, we will discuss cinematic storytelling's tools and tricks, as well as the pioneers throughout history that have made modern moviemaking so clear.
Business Product Analysis
In this project you will complete a case study of a specific product from a business of your choice. You will leverage different analytical techniques and explore business strategy as a whole to understand and engage with the working world around you. We will also explore professional development activities to ensure your post-high school career development is off to a good start. The end result would be a written/digital form of documentation summarizing the product you chose and musing on potential improvements.
Experimental, Mixed Methods, or Qualitative Research
Do you have a question you want to explore scientifically? We can partner to plan and execute a research project, that you can present at a conference or submit for publication. Expand your understanding of research design and methods. Learn to clean, analyze, and synthesize data results into scientific reports. I have rigorous experience managing survey and database designs, report writing, and the following methodologies: quantitative methods (ie key statistical concepts and application in statistical software), qualitative research methods (ie design, data collection, analysis and qualitative meta-synthesis), and systematic reviews, quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods, (ie synthesizing the best available evidence).
Psychology, Music, Quantitative, Social Science, Creative Writing
Apart from scientific work, I have ample experience with teaching and editing creative writing. Therefore, I am also open to mentoring projects involving creative writing in the form of poetry, essays, plays, and short stories, based on a topic of your choice.
Creative Writing, Cognitive
Improving Efficiency in Manufacturing by Minimizing Waste
Waste is detrimental to any process and ubiquitous in manufacturing. Lean principles like eliminating wasted movement, 5S (sort, straighten shine, standardize, and sustain), value stream mapping, and work-cell design can reduce waste. Each of these principles can also be applied to every day tasks such as cooking a meal in your kitchen. Statistical tools help to determine if changes to processes have been successful. Six Sigma provides a standard set of statistical analysis that can measure if a significant change has been made. Once again, these tools are not limited to manufacturing but could be applied in a variety of projects.
Statistics, Philanthropy, Business
Interactive calculator to calculate buy vs rent for housing
Build an interactive calculator to calculate buy vs rent for housing based on different inputs. Another idea is to build a calculator to analyze savings rate and retirement date.
Do protected areas work? Exploring long term species abundence before and after the implementation of a protected area.
Using fish data from the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment Program, calculate biodiversity in an area of the Caribbean where a marine protected area was established. Does biodiversity increase after the implementation of the protected area?
Quantitative, Environmental Science, Social Science
Quants and Poets: An Empirical Analysis of Sportswriting vs. The Underlying Numbers
A quantitative analysis that matches sportswriting with the statistics from games covered, attempting to tease out patterns or biases in the writing using text analysis and contrasting them with the numbers of the team and players.
Comp Sci, Math, Economics
How Do We Talk About Him vs. Her?: A Computational Analysis of the Language Redditors Use in Reference to Men vs. Women
In this project, we are interested in determining if there is a difference in language with which social media users discuss men vs. women. If there is a difference, as previous literature would suggest, then we are also interested in characterizing and describing this difference. To complete this project, we will leverage natural language processing techniques to examine language on a popular social media website. This project will involve data collection, analysis, and visualization.
Fish detective: why are some fish more abundant than others in the same environment?
A new Bermuda fish species (Polymixia hollisterae) was recently detected for the first time in the Gulf of Mexico. Very few have been found in the wild (<100). What makes this fish so elusive? Discover how DNA and the environment might contribute to this mystery.
Investing in technology startups
People often talk about the latest market opportunity, new groundbreaking technologies, and bringing a great team together. If you're an investor, how do you choose between multiple exciting opportunities? Together we'll explore the kinds of discussions that happen behind closed doors, and explore a few investment opportunities ourselves!
Engineering, Physics, Business, Math, Finance
Predictor factors in high school runners
Testing predictive factors on their ability to identify runners prone to injury.
Build a machine learning model to predict protein levels from gene sequence
If I give you the DNA sequence of a gene, can you predict how much protein that gene produces? So far, even state-of-the-art biological models cannot predict how much protein a given gene will produce. However, with modern machine learning methods, we can produce models that work decently well, most of the time. Machine learning is used across all of science, and can be relatively simple to understand and analyze! We can work together to generate data sets with gene sequences and collect existing data on gene expression, and then experiment with different machine learning models to see which ones best predict gene output from gene sequence.
Explore your family's global history: Family ancestry & migration project
Students would have the opportunity to research their own family's history, using public historical databases, and create an artistic representation of their lineage (collage, Prezi, graphic design, etc.). Students could focus on learning more about each country and city where their family lived, including art, culture and traditions. They also could focus on interviewing family members and recording stories and tales that have been passed through their family for generations. This project is very flexible and would be adapted to each student, depending on their family's history and their level of connection to family knowledge.
Psychology, Organizational Leadership, Social Science, History, Literature and Languages, Arts
ND Tic-tac-toe: questions in positional game theory
Positional game theory deals with games such as tic-tac-toe and connect four where the goal is to connect points in space, taking turns with your opponent. While our standard 2D tic-tac-toe has been 'solved', a lot of questions remain about the solvability and statistics of tic-tac-toe in higher dimensions, and with the variants on the game that come with these dimensions. We will explore some of these questions together, and try to figure out winning strategies for weird and wacky multidimensional games!
Literature review on the gut-brain axis
The last decade has seen an enormous spike in research in a topic of immunology known as the 'gut-brain axis'. The gut-brain axis, sometimes referred to as the gut-microbiota-brain axis, is the bidirectional flow of information between the brain and gut. Our gut microbiota (microorganisms living in our gastrointestinal tract) communicate and regulate immune cells in our gut by the release of chemical messengers that tell cells how to behave. Immune cells in turn can produce their own chemical messengers that act on nearby cells or far away cells. In this way, positive and negative feedback loops keep us at homeostasis. This impacts the ability of immune cells to fight infections and prevent inflammation in response to the foods we eat. Furthermore, the gut is home to the enteric nervous system, part of the autonomic nervous system, that is sometimes called the 'second brain of the body'. The last decade of research has started to link the gut-brain-microbiota axis to many disease states, such as neuropsychiatric disorders (schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder) and neurodegenerative diseases (Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease). Ever feel sick to your stomach when you are stressed or anxious? A deep dive into the current literature about the gut-brain axis is a great way to integrate learning about immunology, neuroscience, and microbiology and fuel passion for future research questions.
Why do cells break?
Every second of every day, the cells in your body are performing millions of tasks to keep you alive and functioning. What systems are in place to ensure that they work correctly so much of the time? What causes them to mess up? What systems are in place to correct errors? What if those systems fail?
Biology of Aging
Aging is a heterogeneous, stochastic process by which an organism shows declines across physiological systems over time. Similarly to organismal aging, cells show aging through a process known as cellular senescence, in which cells age over time. This process is accompanied by a series of declines in cellular systems including accumulation of DNA damage, expression of specific proteins, and pro-inflammatory secretions, and these senescent cells avoid cellular death known as apoptosis. A healthy immune system usually responds to cellular senescence by eliminating senescent cells. However, with age, an organism's immune system becomes less functional, allowing senescent cells to build up in tissues. Also, aging is accompanied by weakening of the musculoskeletal systems (bones and muscles), increased prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases (such as dementia), and increased prevalence of cancer. Aging across systems is an incredibly complicated and interesting process and I would love to help a mentee study aging in the immune system, on the cellular level, in the brain, in the cardiovascular system, or any other systems of interest to a mentee to produce a scientific review article, vlog or blog or news and views article for the public, or anything else a student is interested in! There are also very interesting ethics around studying aging that we could learn about and develop a story, blog, vlog, article, or other piece about.
Interactive Shockwave Calculator
When an aircraft is moving at supersonic speeds (i.e., moving faster than the speed of sound), a shockwave forms in front of the aircraft, producing a sonic boom. This shockwave causes a lot of heating, a rise in pressure, and energy to be lost. Because of this, it is important to know how the temperature and pressure rise. This project would be to create a simple, interactive calculator to see how much the pressure and temperature change depending on the speed of your aircraft, and also depending on which atmosphere you are flying in, such as Earth, Mars, or more.
The Intersection of Fashion & History
In 2023 it seems that it would be easy to conduct research, but due to so many mislabeled and yet plentiful images across the internet stratosphere, there is a saturation of disinformation. We may think we know the styles of the 1970’s or of the 1920’s, but do we really? Can we break down and map the progression in style within a decade. Can we note the difference between the 1970’s in London or NYC versus a small town in Illinois; or between different social groups or subcultures. Costume Designers and Fashion Historians must meticulously research and distill to know exactly when a photograph was taken or to confirm the origin of a garment. Think about what you’re wearing right now. Will researchers in 2060 see a difference between your current outfit and that of someone in Beijing in 2010? Most likely! In order to do thorough research and delineate the changes and nuances in how humanity has dressed, we must have a keen eye, seek out accurate information, and we need to look beyond the internet to other sources of information. I will discuss better ways to research including tips and tricks and ways to decipher nuances in photographs and garments. That includes quality and style of clothing, fabric, fit, socio-economic influences, as well as political and war-time changes; not to mention the changing fashion of hairstyles and makeup too. I want to teach you how to really see and what real people, not just celebrities and musicians in magazines, dressed like. Lastly, I aim to help you accurately decipher and document status in dress. Whether it’s the difference between a Civil War Brigadier General and a member of the Company or an 1850’s woman of privilege versus her scullery maid you seek to find, there are many exciting nuances and vast distinctions to explore in status. As technology changes, how has fashion? Fashion history is an exciting discovery of and foray into history, they are deeply intertwined. Understanding how cultures have changed creates a better understanding of why fashion has too. It's not just about magazines and style, pretty dresses and luxurious fabrics, it's about getting a clearer picture of the people in those clothes and the environments in which they dwelled, the time in which they lived, the money they had, and the world at large. Trading, travel, the cross-pollination of cultures and the advent of various technological advances all contribute to fashion and what we wear.
History, Arts, Fashion