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
Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?
To borrow T.S. Eliot's phrase, great poetry seethes against the humdrum, the cliché, the mechanical and rote. In this project, students will write a short collection of poems (up to 25 pages) that resist canned and prepackaged language, beginning to develop their poetic craft and aesthetic vision.
AI for Climate Change
Recent years have seen an explosion of advancements in AI, and the climate and environmental sciences have only begun to adopt these latest methods. Several avenues for projects exist based on student interest in learning certain AI methods (computer vision, natural language processing (NLP), time series methods with transformers) and the climate domain of interest (wildfire, heatwaves, ecosystem impacts, climate justice). Some potential examples include: 1) Using computer vision models to classify wildfire smoke plumes from satellite imagery 2) Using computer vision 'super-resolution' models to enhance the spatial resolution of climate forecasts 3) Time series forecasting of variables like temperature or water levels 4) Natural language processing (NLP) models like BERT applied to classifying climate change misinformation in text data Learning outcomes would include 1) Experience doing an end-to-end data science project on real-world data 2) In-depth knowledge of a particular AI model/algorithm, 2) Python coding experience implementing, training, and fine-tuning the model. A variety of project outcomes are possible, with the most common being a research paper. Prerequisites: Some experience with Python programming. Prior AI coursework experience not expected.
LGBTQ school climate
Is your school a friendly environment for LGBTQ+ students? We can work together to create a survey or conduct interviews to learn more about how LGBTQ students feel in your school or how non-LGBTQ students and staff perceive LGBTQ students. With a quantitative survey, we can answer questions such as "Do white LGBTQ students feel more comfortable than non-white LGBTQ students?" or "What percentage of school staff would say they support LGBTQ students in your school?" With a qualitative survey, we can answer questions such as "How do LGBTQ students describe their experiences in the cafeteria?" or "What changes could be made to events such as school dances to make LGBTQ students feel more included?"
Psychology, Creative Writing, Social, Social Science
Coral Species are complex
Coral reefs are undergoing tremendous amounts of decline, however, coral taxonomy is still largely understudied. Using genomic tools, in addition to corallite morphology data, we will identify cryptic coral species, which may likely occur in different environments, which has major implications on the conservation plans of coral reefs.
Want to create your own language? Want to write poetry in your own language? Together we will learn what it takes to create an original language. You will come out of the project not only with something to brag about to your friends but also with a highly sophisticated understanding of the structures of language, from its sounds to its grammars.
History, Literature and Languages, Creative Writing
How does culture and family play a role in the way you relate to others?
Why do you relate to your friends, romantic partners, and family the way that you do? For this project, you'll collect data from your parents/guardians, siblings, partners, and friends based on psychological frameworks in culture, parenting, and familial relationships. You'll conduct a literature review and write a paper (and maybe even develop a theory!) about how your cultural values, your parent's relationships, and your family dynamics have played a role in the way that you relate to others.
Social Science, Psychology
Let's play "Guess the Artist"!
Different musical genres lend themselves to different types of lyrics. For example, a Christian rock band is probably going to sing about different things than a Country-Western singer. What if we could predict who sings a song based on their lyrics? Using natural language processing (NLP) AI algorithms, we can train a model to identify certain artists based on their lyrics. Using Python and Scikit-learn, these models can take lyrics from a song and predict the singer with surprising accuracy. This project could even be extended to create new song lyrics for a certain artist!
Comp Sci, AI/ML
Curate an Exhibition
This project will enable you to research a specific art historical topic while also learning the skills involved in curating a museum-based exhibition. We will attempt to simulate (within reason) the real process followed by curators when they research and develop exhibition ideas. You will begin by selecting a general topic in art history. This could be an artistic movement (e.g. Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, or The Harlem Renaissance), a specific artist (e.g. Claude Monet, Helen Frankenthaler, or James Van Der Zee), or another theme of your choosing. You will then research your topic by generating a brief annotated bibliography on the subject –– a list of sources followed by short summaries of their content. Drawing on this research, you will decide on a title and thesis for your exhibition, then generate three “deliverables”: First, you will create a “checklist” of objects to include (10 to 15 artworks, drawn from any of the many digitized museum collections available to the public; I will point you to these). Second, you will research and write a “wall label” for each of these objects (a very short paragraph that explains the artwork to a viewer). Third and finally, you will write the text for a short brochure which introduces a museum-goer to your exhibition, addressing these questions: What is the thesis of this exhibition –– in other words, what story does your exhibition tell about its topic? How does this story differ from what has already been said about this topic? How do these particular artworks tell that story?
What is Growing on my Face? A Look in a Microscopic Mirror
In this project, you will learn about the microbiome and the roles it plays in our daily lives, focusing on the skin. You will then analyze the relevant literature and write a scientific review paper assessing the role the skin microbiome plays in common skin diseases, such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea, lupus etc., and how different treatments people use can change the microbiome and the presentation of the disease, for better or for worse.
Learning in a Recurrent Neural Network
With this project you will train a recurrent neural network to do a task of your choosing -- maybe one that animals or people are trained to do. What aspects of training affect how well the network learns or how it solves the task? With this project you will strengthen your Python and Machine Learning skills, and you can delve into the neurobiology of learning as much or as little as you want. You could create a scientific paper, blog post, presentation, or video about your work. You could also explore how biological constraints on neural networks affect learning and task performance, or work with different learning algorithms.
Neuroscience, Comp Sci, AI/ML
Writing a literature review
In this project, you will write a literature review on a topic of your choice. Topics could be anything related to food systems or food policy, from “the history of community gardens” to “how will we feed an ever expanding population?”. This process will teach you how to find, access, and critically analyze existing literature to identify gaps and overarching themes. You will gain skills in writing and editing, as well as an in-depth knowledge of your chosen research topic.
A look at rare disease inheritance
The goal of this project is to understand the inheritance patterns of rare disease and the molecular mechanisms behind how the genetic changes occur. In this project, you will also become familiar with common genetic terms and expressions. This will involve research about how a rare disease is inherited, the gene/s involved in this disease (genotype), how the symptoms (phenotype) manifests in the patient. Examples are well known diseases like sickle cell anemia and Huntington's disease. You will have the opportunity to research whether there are any known or available treatments or gene therapies available for this rare disease and what some of the challenges are with developing therapies. The expected result of this would be a research paper or presentation.
What are games good for?
``Common sense'' wisdom alleges that games are a waste of time, if not a social ill. Playing games allegedly weakens our character and stymies our goals. Social media platforms allegedly ruined political discourse by turning them into games. In contrast, some sciences and their associated philosophies value games as vehicles for exploring and explaining their subject matter. Economists and ecologists often ``model'' certain behaviors as optimal strategies for winning games with certain pay-off structures. Linguists often ``model'' types of conversations as ``language games'' with distinctive goals, rules, and scoreboards. But are games good for their own sake? Is there a characteristic good or value to ``just playing a game''? Together we'll look at discussions by artists, game designers, and philosophers about how games comprise a distinctive artform valuable for their own sake. From there, we'll branch out in accord with your interests. Whichever way we go, we'll strive for a deeper philosophical understanding of just what it is games are good for. Pre-requisites: A curiosity for what makes games, arts, or scientific explanations special is all that's required. We will start with thoughtful columns, podcasts, or videos authored by science communicators and public philosophers and engage with recent research where needed.
Fake News Detector
The system should provide each of the following functionalities: Scrape news articles and fake news datasets from the web Wrangle data from various sources into a unified structure Labelling interface to enable a workforce to label newly scraped articles Extract linguistic features from the scraped articles Model support including training, validation, hyper-parameter tuning, and hosting Online model experimentation Extensive Logging
My Pandemic Autoethnography
For this project, students will write a creative essay, or visual essay, within the genre of "autoethnography" - a unique genre of academic writing most often used by Anthropologists and Sociologists to analyze and interpret the author's own lived experience. As a High School student, you likely spent 1-2 years of your Middle or High School experience studying remotely on Zoom. How can we make sense of (interpret) this experience, and connect it to the experience of others in society? Students will be prompted to write reflexive journal entries every week over the course of 10 weeks, and also to draw on any of their personal archives from the pandemic (social media posts, diary entries, memories), to tell a story about their lived experience through a world-historical pandemic with the aim of analyzing their experience not only as an individual, but to reflect upon the shared dimensions of that experience that have and will continue to shape a generation.
Social Science, History
Biotechnology Industry Evolution
How have we gotten from our first production of insulin to genetic engineering in order to provide personalized medicine? The field is extremely dynamic and evolving each day with the constant changes of the landscape. In this project, we will assess the company's in this field, how they propel the sector and where there are lags and barriers in order to find viable solutions to promote innovation and development.
Cancer, Medicine, Neuroscience
The resilience of aquatic ecosystems against anthropogenic changes
Understanding and managing the impacts of anthropogenic changes on biodiversity, especially in freshwaters, is a major challenge for 21st-century biologists. The outcome of the project would be a report/research paper that will help explore tools to improve biodiversity monitoring, provide early detection of nonindigenous species, and inform management efforts to protect biodiversity from threats including climate change, pollution, and invasive species.
Tools of Surveillance
This project takes a deep-dive into the history of surveillance in both the US's criminal justice and immigration systems. From vetting systems used to exclude immigration since the 1800s, to biometric tools like fingerprint and facial recognition scans used at our borders today, the US government has a rich history of using surveillance technology as a means to control its populations. Questions on this topic might ask: What are the effects of surveillance (both perceived and actual) on immigrant populations? What are the possible consequences of the lack of regulation of facial recognition technology (in both the private and public sectors)? When we introduce the concept of algorithmic bias to biometric technology, what implications might this have on vulnerable populations?
Psychology, Literature and Languages, History
Research - impact of covid on prenatal care
Conduct an analysis of data to estimate the impact that the covid-19 pandemic caused on prenatal care.
Biology, Social Science, Business, Comp Sci
Player Projection Model
538's RAPTOR and basketball index's PIPM are just two examples of predictive models that take in a players past and current performance to predict out how they will be in the coming years. Similar to the draft model, understanding which player's are on the verge of improving and which have the potential to decline is important for NBA front offices. This project will include data gathering and cleaning, predictive modeling with the potential to create an app based visualization to show results.
Statistics, Sports Analytics