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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.

People working on laptops
Photography

Narrating a Life

Is there anybody in your family, your neighborhood, your church or your school whose life or work inspires you? Based on digital ethnographic methods and with the aim to write a testimonial, in this project you will be able to delve into the lives of people from your community that spark your interest. While Covid-19 is still out there, technology offers plenty of resources to tell the stories of people whose lives are compelling to you.

Literature, Photography, Creative Writing

Magdalena
Magdalena

Artistic Medium Exploration

In this project, there are two major options: 1. Choose an artistic medium to learn or practice it by producing an array of pieces in a series. 2. Choose a topic and create an array of pieces using a different artistic medium for each. This project would be more open-ended and a good chance to explore something creative you may not have tried before.

Biology, Arts, Photography, Chemistry, Math

Gillian
Gillian

Prototyping

In this project, you would choose a problem, gather user data, brainstorm solutions, and work on mock ups. Ultimately, you would gather feedback on your ideas and adjust them until we have a prototype. This would develop your engineering design process skills as well as analysis and synthesis of user feedback.

Biology, Arts, Photography, Chemistry, Math

Gillian
Gillian

Open Source Adventure Course

Make a game that teaches the player to program/teaches them various algorithms. For example, the player could use basic flow of control to solve puzzles/riddles, defeat enemies by implementing a sorting algorithm that works faster than theirs, or race through a world using an algorithm such as A* to plot their course.. Publish the game under and open source license so anyone can add puzzles, levels, worlds, etc.

Photography

Chris
Chris

Ethics of AI

Artificial intelligence is promising many big changes in our world. In this project, we will spend some time understanding the technical underpinnings of things like generative AI and then dive into literature on the ethics of it. Students will come away with a deeper understanding of generative AI from both technical and societal standpoint.

Biology, Philosophy, Engineering, Computer Science, Photography

Henry
Henry

Documentary Film or Performance

Equipping and providing creative tools to that could guide a documentary process of filmmaking or performance making. The way one approaches a documentary project always influences and determines what is being documented, so understanding what type of approach work best in certain situations, while maintaining ethics, is key to a successful documentary project.

Dance, Photography, Creative Writing

Sami
Sami

Curating an Exhibition in VR

Curating an art exhibition requires a unique mixture of skills: research, writing, design, storytelling, and strong aesthetic sensibilities. It's essentially making an argument about politics and culture through images. In this project, students design an art exhibition from scratch using a virtual gallery space like artsteps. I'll work with you to define a research question, learn the principles behind curating, write a compelling catalogue essay about the show, and design a virtual space that you can explore in VR. You'll bring an issue that matters deeply to you and we'll work to assemble artworks, from Instagram to museum collections, that help to tell your story.

Photography

George Philip
George Philip

Computer Vision - Eye Contact

Train a computer to recognize eye contact - i.e. whether a person is looking directly into a camera. Use this to drive interaction with the computer (e.g. find "good" photos from a set of images, take a photo when eye contact is made, trigger a voice assistant, etc).

Photography

Chris
Chris

Solo Performance/Acting Monologues

Creating a solo piece of video, theatre or performance art based on a conceptual idea that explores a personal, social or political subject. The process of the project can be based in writing or on research into any type of source material. This type of project could be helpful to anyone wanting to audition, build an artistic portfolio or applying for grants and scholarships or fellowship in film, theatre, performance or new media arts.

Dance, Photography, Creative Writing

Sami
Sami

Narrative Tour

Pick a place, this can be your hometown or somewhere you have never been to before (use Google Streetview), use media and writing to represent a walking tour that traverses through an interesting part of the city. Notice buildings, infrastructure, shops public art, and public life. How would you talk about their significance to you or to others? This exercise involves using media to represent the built environment and using narrative to reveal the culture and history embedded in the built environment.

Photography, Illustration

Alice Jia Li
Alice Jia Li

Research into Performance Techniques

Help in writing a research paper and analysis on techniques and traditions used in acting, dance, performance, and film/video. The paper can be conceptual and/or theoretical, with possible case studies as examples.

Dance, Photography, Creative Writing

Sami
Sami

Photography and the Sites of Civil Rights

Recording history is a complex process, but sometimes a single image captures the mood of an entire era. In this project, you'll explore flashpoints in Civil Rights photography, ranging from 1960s era images by James Karales and Gordon Parks to contemporary photographs of Black Lives Matter protests by Philip Montgomery and Alexis Hunley. Reading newspapers, literature, and laws from these periods will contextualize specific events and the shockwaves they sent through American society. Your capstone for this project would be an online exhibition built on an open source platform like ArcGIS Storymaps. You'll compose short historical and interpretive essays on significant photographs and how they help to change opinions about race in America.

Photography

George Philip
George Philip

Photo-Based Fiction

Have you ever found a snapshot that really captured your imagination? Maybe you've seen loose photographs at an antique store, or discovered charming photos of your relatives from when they were younger. Together, we'll allow these photographs to open up researchable historical questions. You'll combine this research with your imagination and creative writing skills to craft fictional narratives around these photographs.

Photography

Anna
Anna

Creating a short narrative film with visual effects for TikTok or YouTube

Using a combination of programs and applications from the Adobe Suite (e.g., Premiere Pro and After Effects), we can brainstorm, write, film, and edit a short narrative film to help grow your understanding and knowledge of visual storytelling and editing. This could include creating a short film (one to three minutes) from start to finish, or taking an idea for animation or visual effects and working our way through it. By the end of the project, you'll understand the adobe filmmaking and video editing workflow and will be able to take your ideas to the screen with future projects.

Photography, Statistics

Gabriel
Gabriel

Simulation Projects with Robotics

Simulation technology has drastically changed our ability to work with technical systems that aren't physically in front of us. Namely, robotics simulation technology has become increasingly advanced. We will leverage tools from major companies like Google and Amazon to tackle questions in robotics all in simulation!

Biology, Philosophy, Engineering, Computer Science, Photography

Henry
Henry

Publish your own Android app

Build a mobile app, the Google Play Store, F-Droid (https://f-droid.org/en/) or one of many alternative Android app stores. You'll learn a lot building your app, and might even make some money!

Photography

Chris
Chris

How to Make Good Pictures

What makes a "good" photograph? In this project, we'll learn about the history of photographic style and explore how new technologies and platforms from the 35mm camera to TikTok have changed how people make and share content. The final product could be an extended instagram story, a photo/fashion blog, or a portfolio for college apps or AP exams.

Photography

George Philip
George Philip

What Is The Carnivore Diet?

There has been a recent interest in the 'carnivore' diet - a diet consisting of consumption of purely meat-based products and meat - which has been anecdotally successful at treating patients with immune disorders. Clinical studies on the carnivore diet's impact on longevity, health, and other metrics have been few however. Is it a fad? Or is there a key insight about it that could be beneficial for those looking to improve their health? Learn how to design a clinical trial to test the impact of nutrition on human health through this 'tasty' project!

Neuroscience, Computer Science, Photography, Chemistry, Math, Business

Steven
Steven

Caring in an Unsettling World

In recent years, the field of anthropology has produced a comprehensive body of work focused upon the issue of care. Evidence from various anthropological sites shows how care is a resource, relation, and a practice that touches upon the intimate and familial, as well as the economic and the political. Care is contextual and specific, a polysemic concept emerging from the connections between macroforces and microprocesses (Buch 2015). As a practice, it “connotes some kind of engagement” (Tronto 1993), one intended to be, above all, restorative and world-building. Yet, after years of facing a global pandemic that has exacerbated the social, political, environmental, and economic instability, one cannot help but ask how we are to care in a world that seems to be falling apart. What does care look like in a society pierced by precarity, illness, pervasive racism, environmental destruction, and faltering democracy? Can we care? How do we do it? You can write an essay that reflects on this topics and aims to answer to this question.

Literature, Photography, Creative Writing

Magdalena
Magdalena

Personal Trainer, a la New York Times Seven Minute Workout

Develop an application to run through the NYT Seven Minute Workout. Expand the list of exercises, and add variability/randomness to the workouts, to yield a simple, virtual personal trainer.

Photography

Chris
Chris