When I started my science extension project in 2019, I was in the first cohort of students to undertake the course. This meant we had room to push the envelope and a blank page of ideas. This also means I saw first hand the projects which worked and those which required more work. My research evolved into a theoretical model for cancer cell reprogramming, you can read more here. However, research is like any good journey, you never finish at the same point you start at. My own research started by trying to teach human eating bacteria to eat cancer cells.
So I thought I would compile a list of science extension project ideas which will help you start you on your journey of scientific discovery. Be open to new ideas, be passionate and be curious.
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- Genetic engineering
- Extremely interesting however it is hard to find suitable labs which will allow you to carry out work on GMO’s. Typically university with PC1 or PC2 labs are required for this.
- Genomics and data
- The future of medicine is said to be in big data and is a key focus of any medical school. Here are some human genome data banks to get you started. You may find correlations between a mutation and a disease. Offering novel insights into future potential treatments. The sky is the limit with data and free big data sets are becoming bigger and bigger each day.
- Plant growth and global warming
- I don’t think global warming has ever been a hotter topic. Find a link between plant growth and global warming. You might forecast our demise or provide the key to end it.
- Antimicrobial resistance
- An ever-growing issue and a threat to humanities existence. A project in antibacterial resistance could involve culturing microbes and determining which ones are more predisposed to antimicrobial resistance. Additionally, a multidisciplinary approach could bring chemistry in to test different chemical compounds potential antimicrobial effects.
- Chemical synthesis projects
- Scour google scholar and you will find numerous reaction synthesis process. This is how you turn your reactants into products. Change the length of the carbon chain of your starting compound and you potentially have a new novel reaction synthesis to make a compound that no one has made yet. However, if you want to characterise i.e. confirm you have made what you want to make, you will require some machines which you don’t often find in a high school chemistry lab.
- Effects of chemicals on different ‘things’
- As mentioned in biology, a multidisciplinary approach is always a good way to learn more. For example in my research I merged biology and mathematics. However, looking at what effect a certain chemical will have on a living system such as bacteria… Perhaps looking at what additive agents would do for fuel consumption in a model motor… Perhaps the effects of trace minerals in plant growth… The sky is the limit and there are truly endless opportunities here.
- Ever looked up into the night sky, wondered how that star studded ceiling works. Why we can see it better when we are in the country. How they can be used for navigation and telling of time. Then perhaps an astronomy project is the way to go. Light pollution, atmospheric pollution, space junk – what effect will these have for us seeing the jewels of the sky?
- Maybe you have watch 6 underground and seen 1, the main character played by Ryan Reynolds save the day with the physics of magnetism. Exploiting faradays laws to turn a boat into a ferromagnet. If that interests you, maybe you will find some interesting properties or do some inventing with magnetism.
- Light and its potential applications
- Do you know how your calculator display screen works? How is it we can see the numbers in the light, but they disappear in the dark.
- Solar panels
- Yeah you can do heaps with these. They are now developing organic solar panels.
- The study of the science of the brain. The most complex machine known to man trying to determine how the most complex machine known to man works. Perhaps researching a neurochemical or even looking at the gene banks listed above in biology.
- Behavioural study
- Influence of lock down’s on students well being
- Machine learning algorithm
- Maybe you are feeling like making a bit of money out of your project. Machine learning algorithms are being deployed throughout every industry from education, as we do on our website, to finance. So if you want to improve the world or develop the next big thing, have a look into machine learning and perhaps you will find a novel way to deploy your algo.
- Influences of decay in systems
- New methods to estimate the time of death
As you can see, research opportunities are endless. Don’t be afraid to change your project – that is perfectly normal and common practise. Your research should flow and evolve. Most importantly is for you to enjoy it and learn something.
The following is our free course for science extension students.
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