Research Ideas for High School Students

Research ideas put students in the driver seat of their education.

Rather than following a prescribed curriculum, students doing research get to decide what topics most interest them, create and execute a plan for expanding their knowledge, and select the best method for sharing what they’ve learned.

In the increasingly test-optional world of college admissions, research ideas help distinguish truly exceptional, self-motivated students from hordes of applicants with stellar grades and similar extracurriculars.

two researchers examine a sample with a microscope

Types of Research Ideas

Not all researchers wear lab coats. Performing your own experiments is only one option in a world of possibilities for exploring your passions through research. Polygence has expert mentors equipped to guide students through writing research papers, creating blogs, recording podcasts, composing music, designing video games, and so much more! No prior experience is required - just a passion for learning.

Lab equipment

Research papers

Research papers are the gold standard for making a rigorous, concrete contribution to the advancement of any academic field. When you publish a paper in a peer-reviewed journal, what you learned in your project becomes publicly available to other researchers whose own work may benefit from your insights. There are many peer-reviewed journals that publish outstanding papers from researchers of all levels, even high schoolers!

Review papers

Review papers provide a comprehensive analysis of the existing research within a certain academic niche and the conclusions we can draw from prior work. These papers become useful tools for other researchers and are often the most cited works within a given discipline. With a simple internet connection, you can use tools like Google Scholar to start reading scholarly articles and writing your own review paper today!

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Placement in U.S. Government and its ImplicationsResearch Paper on the Effect Dance Therapy has on Neurological DisordersGenetic Engineering as an Effective Cancer Therapy: A Research Paper Focused on CRISPRCalifornia in Flames: A Literature Review on the Causes and Effects of WildfiresResearch Paper Discussing Cybersecurity Policies and International Relations: The Case of the US and Iran
Original data collection

Collecting and analyzing data sets is critical to identifying patterns and solving problems across many scholarly fields. Many research papers can present original data in the form of charts and graphs and present the conclusions the researchers have drawn from their data.

Original analysis of public data set

There is a surabondance of robust data freely available which has yet to be analyzed to its full extent and which can save researchers the trouble of collecting original data. Researchers often make use of existing data sets to investigate their own unique research question or to train their algorithms, making sure to cite the original researchers who collected the data, of course!

Critical analysis

If your research interests lie in the humanities, your research paper may examine certain works of art, historical events, and cultural phenomena. By making close observations and applying particular aesthetic and theoretical lenses – feminism, post-colonialism, gender theory, and more – humanities scholars uncover hidden significance and proposed new understandings of cultural objects.

The Evolution of the Disney Princesses: Our Once-Flawed Role ModelsHow has the treatment of Asian women throughout American history shaped societal perception and self-perception of Asian women?The Changing Ideals of War as Reflected Through Poetry of the First World War
Comparative studies

Comparative studies examine two or more different phenomena, typically across different cultures and/or time periods, to see what new knowledge arises from bringing them into conversation.

Say His Name: Reading L’Étranger and Meursault, contre-enquête in the Age of Black Lives Matter
Colorful praintbrushes

Creative art projects

Research is an inherently creative process, which is why we welcome students who want their output to reflect their artistic talents. You can channel what you learn through research into a poem, a painting, a musical composition, a photography portfolio, a fashion design, a multimedia collage, and more!

Visual art

If you have skills in a visual medium like drawing, painting, or sculpture that you want to cultivate, you can make an art piece or portfolio inspired by your research.

Da Vinci inspired drawing portfolio
Creative writing

From fiction to poetry to plays to scripts, a piece of writing which tells a story is a fantastic way to share what you’ve learned in an engaging way.

Short story inspired by postcolonial literaturesPoetry portfolio
Music composition

Whether you’re a seasoned instrumentalist or just hoping to make some beats in GarageBand, Polygence mentors can help you create an original composition inspired by your area of interest.

Starry Night: A Love Song

From smartphone photography to professional shoots, Polygence has mentors who are experts in helping students learn to take stunning photos that explore themes and tell a story.

Photo Essay Exploring Tenderness and Violence from a Levantine Perspective
Fashion design

Learn to sketch outfit designs, select the perfect fabrics, find a color scheme, and even stitch it all together with Polygence fashion design mentors.

A Fabulous Fashion MagazineExploring 19th Century Fashion DesignBug People Clothes Collection
Studio with a microphone

Passion projects

Research papers are geared towards an academic audience, but you may have a different target audience in mind. If your focus is sharing what you’re passionate about with your friends, family, peers, and community members, you have a vast array of media formats to choose from.


Blogs are great tools for growing as a writer, expressing yourself with a personal flair, all while creating a designated space for spreading information about a topic you’re passionate about. You can make your own webpage or use Medium, Substack, or another existing platform to house your blog.

A Blog All About Proper Health and NutritionBlog on Social Inequalities and Policy MakingBlog on Anxiety and Stress in Teenagers

If you prefer talking out your ideas and taking in information through listening, podcasting can be your medium of sharing your insights, contributing to important conversations, and expressing your passions. Just find a podcast hosting service, and you can easily share your episodes to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere else you listen!

Mind the SkinThe Composition of a LeaderFoggy Mind.The Myth of Io in Ovid and Beyond: Voice, Sexuality, and Lamentation
Youtube Videos

In a Youtube video, you can combine text, voiceover, images, video footage, music, interviews, and more to find the best method of sharing your message. Researching and creating one video can spark ideas for entire series on your Youtube channel.

Youtube video about biomimicry in octopus’Informative video animation about Vascular Elhers-Danlos Syndrome
Social media page

Social media is a great way to reach a wide audience of young people, and most platforms allow for many different formats of content sharing and communication.

The Nung
Abstract design

Design projects

Research is inventive! Sometimes a proposed solution to a problem can take the form of a design for a product, a tool, a policy, an algorithm, and more. Design can serve specific social purposes like making education fun through a game or advocating for positive change through policy proposals.


Have an idea for a product and a love for tinkering? Polygence mentors can help you design and build your invention!

AutoMeler: An Anti-Snow System for Driveways and Streets
Algorithm design

Algorithms are powerful tools for problem solving. You can use your coding skills to write an original algorithm to address a need you see. Be sure to share it on Github!

Award-winning machine learning algorithmResource administrator AIA Machine-Learning Based Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease
Game design

Game design is a dynamic way to build your problem solving skills and express your creativity all at once. Whether you make a game for entertainment or for educational purposes, you will learn invaluable skills throughout the process!

Web app that gamifies algorithm learningBuilding a Green City Simulation Game
Design for social good

If you’ve identified a need in your community, you can design a tool or propose policies to help address it. We love to see Polygence students using their ingenuity to help make our world a better place.

Presentation at the UN Women's NGO ConferenceDatabase to Find High School Internships

Ready to pursue your own research ideas?