2,893 Inspirational Research 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.

Epistolary history

Creative historical writing project inspired by the ancient letters of Pliny and Cicero, epistolary novels like The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder, and the documentary films of Ken Burns. Write a series of letters between historical figures that detail the events, thoughts, and concerns leading up to, during, and in the aftermath of historical events, and present them in either written or podcast format. Examples include the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Battles of Actium, Marathon, or Gettysburg, or Sack of Troy.

History

Anthony
Anthony

Studying Peace and Violence

For this project, we'd read and discuss topics about peace and violence from a theoretical standpoint, lived experiences of conflict from different parts of the world, and why do different types of conflicts continue to happen? Depending on your individual interests, this could culminate in traditional research paper or Op-ed, or alternatively in a more creative endeavor like an educational video or a podcast.

History, Languages, Social Science, Literature and Languages

Shauna
Shauna

Creating Player Investment through Character Dialogue

(This is inspired by an independent study I did during my master's program.) The average gamer is only truly invested in a video game for the first 30 minutes of gameplay. Does character dialogue contribute or detract to that player experience? Does the player need to be an active participant or do they prefer to be a passive observer? Using narrative scenes featuring two or more characters, I will gauge multiple player factors for liking characters (such as what character archetypes players gravitate towards, and how to establish character arcs for players to take interest in).

Creative Writing, History, Social Science, Literature and Languages, Comp Sci - Game Design

Tyler
Tyler

Learning History

For this project, students will write a history paper on their personal favorite time period of history. This paper will have to focus on why this period is important, what happened in this period, and why people should use this time period to learn for the future.

Environmental Science, Psychology, History, Literature and Languages

Katie
Katie

Understanding how colleges address crime on campus

The reality is that criminal activity can occur anywhere, even on college and university campuses. In this project, you will seek to understand the similarities and differences in how various colleges/universities 1) inform students, staff, and faculty about criminal activity, 2) perceive crime as being a concern, and 3) approach solving and preventing campus-based crime. To answer these questions, you may seek to interview members of colleges' leadership and campus police/safety personnel, analyze data that the institutions collect on criminal activity, and/or review campus-based reports and news coverage related to crime.

History, Social Science

Lionel
Lionel

The Mao Family as Ming-Dynastic Foreign Relations Specialists

The late Ming period Manual of Military Preparedness serves as one of our best sources today for information on late Ming and early Qing Chinese views of foreign lands and the maritime world. It was compiled by Mao Yuanyi, who served the late Ming as a specialist in these matters. Mao's cousin Ruizheng had a different but related specialty; he was a senior administrator in the college of translators and interpreters. He left us most of our records of how these official specialists were trained and their talents assessed. The Mao cousins' ancestor Mao Kun also worked in the field of foreign relations. In the Mongol Yuan dynasty Mao Kun worked on a map of the oceans surrounding China & Southeast Asia, conferring on this now-lost map the nickname 'Mao Kun Map.' The Mao Kun Map was reproduced in 15th century Korea, and also guided the Treasure Fleet of Zheng He, who in turn mapped their own travels, and the map that they produced appears in Mao Kun's descendant Mao Yuanyi's Manual of Military Preparedness. This article investigates the Mao lineage and the reasons for their longstanding specialty in foreign relations. How did this specialty develop in the first place? Did it continue after the late Ming cousins? Was it typical, in this period, for powerful families to pursue an epistemological or technical specialty in this manner?

History, Languages

Nolan
Nolan

Language learning

Learn Latin or Ancient Greek

History

Anthony
Anthony

A Comparative Analysis of LGBTQ+ Media Representation

This research project examines LGBTQ+ media representation across different cultures and time periods to not only understand how people in the LGBTQ+ community have been represented in the media, but also how they are perceived and even perceive themselves based on their portrayal. To carry out this project, the student will strengthen their skills in critical media analysis; acquaint themselves with theories of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and disability; and learn how to find materials through various databases and archives. Some methodological approaches the student can choose from that Shio can mentor them in include media and literary analysis, literature review, interviews, surveys, and/or statistical analysis. For the final outcome, the student can choose to write a research paper demonstrating their findings or create a video providing commentary on LGBTQ+ media representation.

Arts, History, Literature and Languages

Christine
Christine

Yesterday's Technology Today

In this project you create a history of technology podcast. You research and learn about the way that new technologies impact our understanding of old technologies. Choose a non-current technology, whether recent (for example, typewriters, film camera, retro computing, etc.), older (quill and parchment books, owl post), or ancient (papyrus, clay tablets, etc.); then we tackle the big idea of how our modern technological world impacts our take on the previous world. You present your research as a podcast or a more retro audio product. In addition to learning about and researching the history of technology, you also can try your hand at audio production.

History, Languages, Comp Sci, AI/ML

Allen
Allen

Inquiry-Based Learning in High School Learning Environments

An examination of the methods and approaches employed by high school students in their knowledge acquisition endeavors for the purpose of academic research

Psychology, History, Literature and Languages

Vanessa
Vanessa

Hook, Line and Sinker: Exploring Shakespeare’s Plays

Many of the plots of Shakespeare used for his plays were already well known by audiences. Then what made them (and still makes them) so popular? There are some who find the dimensions of the characters while others feel it’s the language he chooses. Pick a play and let’s explore what you think!

Biology, Neuroscience, History

Madeleine
Madeleine

Life Stories through Court Records

In my project, we will read court records from the past to understand the litigants and the social context in which they lived. We will use these primary sources to construct a narrative about the characters and societies we are studying together.

History

Dilyara
Dilyara

Does the United States Need Friends?

In recent years there has been a popular belief that the United States should disengage from the world and put its own priorities first. Can the United States really isolate itself from the world and focus on itself while ignoring even countries which have been its historic allies? This project will dive into the issues of isolationism and how isolationist great powers have affected the world in the past.

History

Cody
Cody

Sustainable Meal Alternatives

Analyze a local food system within your community, like your high school, your religious community, or even a local eating establishment. Measure and analyze the potential sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the ingredients in a specific dish. Design an alternative to this dish using your understanding of the social and environmental components of eating.

Biology, Environmental Science, Arts, History

Alyson
Alyson

Disability and the Dead

During their years performing, and even after Jerry Garcia's death and the band's subsequent iterations, The Grateful Dead forged a radically-inclusive community amongst their fans. Dead concerts became gathering places not only for members of the counter-culture that emerged in the Haight in the late-1960s San Francisco, but also a place where recovering alcoholics, tapers, dancers, and conservatives all found a sense of community and connection. One notable group that became a frequent subsection of Dead shows in the 1980s were deaf individuals who gained the moniker, "Deafheads." While this group — individuals without the ability to hear who would presumably not find audio-centric concerts of interest — seems an unlikely set of people to forge community around the Dead, their existence highlights the compelling intersection between the Grateful Dead, their fanbase, and people with disabilities. This project proposes to explore how the Dead (understood broadly to encompass the band *and* their fans) fostered a space for fans with disabilities. The project has a number of potential avenues: How did their embrace of psychedelics and other mind-altering drugs create openness to neuro-diversity? How did the emergence of the independent living and disability rights movement in San Francisco in the late 1960s intersect with and draw influence from (or influence) the counter-culture around the Grateful Dead? How did the spaces of Grateful Dead concerts create impromptu venues of accessibility and transformed notions of what defined one as "able"?

History

Nate
Nate

What Difference Does Translation Make?

In the age of instant translation, what is the point of literary translation? Is it on the way out? Taking one central text, we compare both existing published translations and instant translations. We ask what translation aims to do and how it “works.” At the end of 10 sessions, we’ll either be vindicated or we’ll let Google take it from here.

Arts, History, Languages, Literature and Languages

Hector
Hector

General Law

Any project associated with any legal topic (Criminal Law, Contracts, Civil Procedure, etc...)

History

Rebecca
Rebecca

Nature's Past: Let's Do Environmental History!

History isn't all wars and presidents—it's also the material world! From climate, food, and microbes to mosquitos, horses, and fire, this project provides an opportunity to explore the relationship between people and the natural environment. After picking a topic that is meaningful to you, we'll break the research and writing process down into manageable steps. Along the way, we'll learn a little about what environmental history is—and why today's environmental problems are also historical problems.

History

Gustave
Gustave

Print, Polemic, and Poetry

How did the invention of the printing press coupled with the Reformation catapult different genres of religious literature into everyone's hands? Literate and nonliterate people alike spent their hard-earned cash to see some spicy takes on figures like the pope (vicar of Christ or anti-Christ?) and Martin Luther (liberator of the conscience or arch-heretic?)—why?

History

Serena
Serena

Making History Digital: Archival Research

Are you interested in working with historical writing? Archival research might be just the ticket! Together, we will work on developing archival research questions, accessing and using digitized archival resources (including learning how to read cursive!), conducting primary and secondary research, and creating engaging and accessible digital research presentations.

Creative Writing, History, Literature and Languages

Bailey
Bailey