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
Animals in Renaissance art, literature, and culture
In the early modern world, animals were a particular source of fascination. Renaissance thinkers, artists, and scientists grappled with the question of what it meant to be human, and explored the fragile boundary between (hu)man and beast. This anxiety surrounding the animal/human divide manifested in areas as diverse as the English bear gardens, the imaginary beasts on New World maps, and the political metaphors of Italian naturalists. In this project, you will use an animal studies perspective to explore Renaissance humanism and anthropocentrism.
Spatial Variation in Air Quality across the United States
It is well known that air quality is an important matter of public health. By using publicly available datasets, the student will examine how air quality differs across the United States. Potential questions to explore include: How does average rainfall impact airborne pollutants? Does elevation play a role in pollutant load? These questions present an excellent avenue to lean about simple modeling, basic statistics, introduction to data analysis in R, Excel, or a another software. A more advanced exploration could include kernel density creation or statistical advanced modeling techniques. Potential outcomes include a poster for a science competition, a simple research paper, or an essay.
Biology, Environmental Science, Entomology
Effects of fire on California plant communities
Climate change is making California hotter and drier, and fires are increasing in frequency and intensity. While many California plants are adapted to fire, scientists expect many changes to California plant communities over the coming decades as fires become more common. This project could review the most recent research on plant community responses to fire, adaptations plant species use to optimize fitness in fire-prone habitats, and/or how climate change is predicted to increase conditions that can lead to more incidences of fire in California.
Bee diversity across an urban landscape
Cities contain more than half the world's population, and are rapidly growing. How does wildlife adapt to live alongside humans in an increasingly urbanized landscape? How does urbanization affect the diversity of bee species? Use field entomology techniques to catch bees across a range of habitat types, then learn basic taxonomy and how to identify bees to family, genus, or species level. In this field-based project, you will learn and practice experimental design, hypothesis testing, field techniques, specimen identification, and statistical analysis.
Relative Habitat Use of Captive Animals
Captive animal behavior may be different from behavior of a counterpart in the wild. If the student researcher would like hands-on experience they can go to the zoo several times and record behavior and locations of the animals in the enclosure. Examining this data could reveal if the animals are using particular areas of the enclosure more or for specific activities (sleeping, feeding, etc.). The student can create a heatmap of areas utilized and learn about recording data on animal behavior. End products could include an essay, poster, or blog post.
Biology, Environmental Science, Entomology
Cooperation and conflict in the animal kingdom
Why do some animals sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the group? What drove the evolution of the complex societies of the eusocial insects, where sterile workers altruistically help their queen? How do parents manipulate their offspring into becoming workers? How might we compare the collective decision-making process of a honey bee colony to the ideal democracy? Finally, what happens when cooperation goes awry, and societies face internal conflict? In this project, you will learn about Hamilton's Rule, Kin Selection Theory, and the field of sociobiology to explore the inner workings of complex animal societies, from birds, to ants, to humans.