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.
- Computer Science
- Creative Writing
- Environmental Science
- Game Design
- Organizational Leadership
- Public Health
- Social Science
- Sports Analytics
Spirituality and Mental Health
In this project, you will review scientific literature on the relationship between personal spirituality/religion and mental health. You will learn how to conduct a scientific literature review in the field of psychology (how to use search engines to find recent and relevant peer-reviewed research articles, how to read, summarize, and synthesize peer-reviewed articles). You will produce a scientific review paper and propose a research question that you did not find to be answered in the existing scientific literature.
Social, Arts, Statistics
Isolating pigments using 3D Printed Microfluidics
In this project, you will use basic 3D printing techniques to build microfluidic devices which can separate the base pigments that make up multi-component dyes. In the course of this project, I expect that you will expand your engineering expertise with hands-on work, as well as learn about 3D modeling, chemical separations, and fluid dynamics. Photo by ZMorph All-in-One 3D Printers on Unsplash.com
Ethics, Statistics, Medicine
Evolution of body and brain in simulated Braitenberg vehicles
In this hypothetical project, we explore the process of evolution as it unfolds in a simulated environment, using Braitenberg vehicles (simple robots) as our "model organism". We discover how incredibly complex behaviors can arise from simple connections in the brain. We can ask questions like, What is the ideal body size in this environment? How many neurons is enough? Or even, can robots be superstitious? In this integrative project you would learn a bit from a variety of fields, such as psychology, neuroscience, physics, and modeling, and you will learn how to put it all together. Some coding experience is required, but no other special background is needed. Outcomes could include a web-based viewer to showcase the robots (or their brains) in action, or even a research paper addressing one of your questions!
Neuroscience, Physics, Statistics
Statistically Selecting Stocks
This project would entail researching various ratios and other statistics of publicly traded stocks. With an understanding of some stock ratios and statistics the student would then and then formulate a method for selecting stocks based upon these ratios or statistics. The stock selection method the student comes up with would be in an effort to outperform the overall market or a specific index. The student's portfolio would then be tracked against the overall market or a specific market index to determine the student's portfolio excess return.
Economics, Math, Business, Statistics
Understanding the "Reproducibility Crisis"
In this project we would go over several important readings and papers to understand the so-called "reproducibility crisis" in science. "Reproducibility crisis" refers to there being a large number of studies whose findings cannot be reproduced by other researchers. For instance, one psychology report was only able to reproduce 36 out of 100 findings from top journals. We will begin by discussing the statistical, game-theoretic, and structural reasons causing the crisis, and then discuss several new tools scientists have developed to overcome it. The culmination of this project could be a blog post summarizing what we have learned and suggestions for further improvement. Alternatively, a student could also conduct an analysis of these tools to compare and contrast their efficacy.
Machine learning approaches to better understand disease
The field of genomics is very good at sharing data publicly! Large studies conducted on humans have accrued millions of data points across many publicly-available data sets. These provide an amazing substrate to test the utility of machine learning approaches to better understand disease. A machine learning approach that is good at predicting disease from such data can be very helpful for medical professionals when making diagnoses. In this project, an interested student may start by downloading data from a few studies of interest and using machine learning or statistical learning approaches to identify genes that may contribute to disease. Students can compare various approaches and identify methods that work well in genomic datasets.
Biology, Computer Science, AI/ML, Statistics
Tiny Timely Transit
A project I worked on with a few friends to provide more accurate bus time estimates for the public transit around our school. There are endless systems with lots of data to analyze, and building a project like this can teach you about data analysis (and even machine learning), software development, web development, and several more important skills.
Computer Science, Math, Statistics
Why do people believe conspiracy theories?
Why do people endorse conspiracy theories like the belief that humans have never been to the moon? First we can dive into scientific papers that have studied why conspiracy theories and other extreme beliefs emerge and what environmental conditions might increase them. We can even think about how the covid-19 pandemic has affected people’s conspiracy-related beliefs. You can then use surveys to study whether different forms of stress or emotional states lead to higher endorsement of conspiracy theories. For instance, do people who experience more uncertainty or anger in their lives also believe more conspiracy theories? Have another idea for studying conspiracy theories, let’s try it!
Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Statistics
Or, if you're open to one of my research interests...
I'm interested in anything that has to do with social decision-making. I've worked on dating-app behavior, jury decision-making on criminal cases, and in-game player social behavior. We can find a cool project for you along those lines!
Social, Psychology, Social Science, Statistics
Principles of Economics
This project would cover a condensed version of the key insights from first-year college economics. The student will read appropriate chapters in an economics textbook and attempt problem sets based on this material. The mentoring sessions would discuss the assigned chapters, answer questions, and discuss the assigned problem sets. The student output would be a paper that uses the tools developed during the project to analyse the history and behavior of an industry, a government policy, a management strategy, or individual decision issues such as choosing a profession.
History of statistics and mathematics:
Each concept in STEM subjects is rich with their very own history. Pick a STEM topic you are interested in (e.g. sampling techniques, or a certain machine learning method you've heard of), and do research into how it came about and what it has developed into now. Extra brownie points if you can identify ways to improve it! Write up your findings into a blog post and share it with the community.
Biotech, AI/ML, Statistics
Health Beliefs and Practices in a Cultural Context Project
This research project will focus on health beliefs and practices within a specific community. Explore how cultural norms contribute to or hinder health-related behaviors. The student may conduct surveys or interviews with participants in these communities to understand how peer information and cultural context impacts health behavior, treatment choices, and other health behavioral outcomes. This project could involve reviewing scholarly literature, gathering and analyzing data, and presenting results in the form of a scientific research paper, blog, or other platform of your choosing. The student can produce a research report or academic paper that highlights the intersection of sociology and cultural studies, providing a deeper understanding of how cultural contexts shape and are shaped by social dynamics.
Social Science, Statistics
Exploring the History of Social Science and Generational Themes that impacted American History
The study of social science can be traced back to ancient Greece. In this research project, we aim to explore the roots of human nature, examining the impact of mortality and societal conditions on shaping our culture. By utilizing subjects like Sociology, we can objectively measure and analyze the various factors that influence our society today. We will analyze imperial research and quantify our results.
Social Science, Business, Statistics
Is War with China Inevitable?
One of the oldest and most enduring questions in the study of politics concerns the causes of great power warfare. From the clash between Sparta and Athens in ancient Greece, to the invasion of Ukraine, war has been an ever-looming threat in international relations, and has thus attracted great scholarly attention. In this research project, you will write a research paper evaluating the likelihood of war between the United States and China. You will review the leading theories of international relations explaining war, and select three cases of conflict throughout history to evaluate how well they explain each incident. You will conclude by applying the most convincing theory to the United States and China, and make a prediction about the likelihood of war in the future.
Science communication and outreach
Science communication is an important component of conducting research. Together, we could research a topic of interest and create an easy-to-use resource (e.g., commercial, blog post, or newsletter) to explain our findings to general audiences.
Biology, Public Health, Statistics
Through Greenfoot, create a game with a topic and theme of your choice that conveys a story that can be used to educate others. Some previous coding experience is preferred but it does not to have to be with Greenfoot specifically. We will be able to publish the game on Greenfoot upon project completion.
Computer Science, Math, Public Health, Statistics
Understanding Diversity and Inclusion within STEM
The world needs scientists from all backgrounds - yet, disparities exist across race, gender, and class in who becomes a scientist. Recent literature in the social sciences and education suggests that there are multiple angles researchers and policy makers can take in combating these disparities. In this project you can review current interventions designed to promote diversity in STEM, and these interventions underlying psychological mechanisms. Projects could include a suggested intervention to promote STEM interest among currently underrepresented students.
Social, Psychology, Social Science, Statistics
Write a Review Paper
Choose any disease and write a review paper exploring current known causes, symptoms, and treatments. You'll learn about how to read and write peer-reviewed research, all while doing a deep dive on a disease or medical condition you find interesting or of personal significance!
Biology, Physics, Computer Science, Statistics, Medicine
Ancient Analogs for Natural Disasters
To best project how natural hazards will change in the future, it is critical to understand how they have behaved under historical climates. Prior to the relatively recent invention of satellites and recording equipment, however, we rely on historical observations that only exist for less than 200 years. Geological analogs can provide new information about hazards presence and severity and can even span several millennia. Yet, their implementation to broader natural hazard modeling and projections has been limited. In this project, the student would conduct a detailed literature review on datasets and methodologies for using such analogs for hazards like hurricanes, flooding, heat, etc. Based on the student's findings, they will create a central database and review paper for available data sources/analogs and their potential impact for different natural hazards.
Data Visualization for Hurricane Trends
There is a lot of interest in estimating how hurricanes are going to change in the future, and what trends have been like in the past. This project would involve reading some of the current research on hurricane trends and creating simple, legible visuals or infographics to help make that information more accessible to the general public.
Environmental Science, Statistics