Personal Projects

Projects are where students can experiment with their aptitudes and passions. It is completely self-directed, under the guidance of our program and the community. Projects may take the form of internships or apprenticeships, or they may be individual or group endeavors with some specific goal, such as repair a junk car, take pictures from outer space, build an aquaponics system, start a business, write a novel, or learn calculus. Our program requires one major project per semester, but there is nothing to stop you from completing many smaller projects, as well. Check out our list of suggestions, and also contact me with your own suggestions!

 

  1. Aquaponics: learn what it is, and build one of any size.
  2. Ask ten strangers of all backgrounds to recommend one book. With help from others, collect these in one place and read them.*
  3. Build a weather balloon/camera apparatus to take pictures from outerspace.
  4. Attend someone else’s place of worship. Make comparisons to your own.*
  5. Analyze the components of friendship. Write three hundred words on the subject. Read your essay aloud into a tape recorder. Listen to yourself; figure out how to improve your performance. Do so.*
  6. Apprentice yourself for one day to your mother. Do the same with your father. And for a neighbor or a stranger.*
  7. At your supermarket, select twenty packaged food items at random. Calculate how many miles they traveled from point-of-origin to reach you.*
  8. Bicycle fifty miles, at least, to a new place.*
  9. Boat part of the great loop (or all of it!)
  10. Build a canoe.
  11. Build a drone or learn to fly model planes, submarines, etc.
  12. Build a dwelling (cobb house, tiny house, doghouse, dollhouse, etc.)
  13. Build an obstacle course.
  14. Build something from the beginning – a wall, a box, a simple shelter.*
  15. Buy a cup of coffee for a self-made millionaire (or some other definition of success) and have a professional conversation with them.
  16. Canoe part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (or all of it!)
  17. Catch and clean/cook a fish. Eat it the same hour.*
  18. Change the motor oil in the family car; also the fan belt and windshield wipers*
  19. Conduct an experiment.
  20. Learn to apply cosmetics for a variety of people and events.
  21. Create an app.
  22. Create and showcase your greatest works of art, both somewhere terrestrial and cyber.
  23. Design clothing for friends, family, or clients.
  24. Do some research, then visit the five most prosperous businesses in your area; observe them externally for a day, then attempt to be given an internal tour. Take notes.*
  25. Do something in front of a large audience (magic, standup comedy, a ted talk, etc.)
  26. Follow a particular diet for a month. Journal the experience.
  27. Follow the trash from your home, step by step, from its origin to its final resting place.*
  28. Follow your electricity to its source.*
  29. Get rejected 100 times and document the experience on a blog/vlog
  30. Give yourself one week to learn something seemingly impossible (calculus, Spanish, etc.) then teach it to someone else.
  31. Go 30 days (or longer) without any electronics
  32. Grow enough vegetables for one meal. Cook and eat it.*
  33. Have a conversation with a well-known (or famous) person
  34. Hike the 46 High Peaks.
  35. Hike the 46 High Peaks in the winter
  36. Hike part of the Appalachian Trail (or the whole thing!)
  37. Hike the last 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail without resupply
  38. Host a dinner party to raise money for a cause (proper etiquette, cooking, budgeting, etc.)
  39. Host or participate in a cooking contest (or some other contest…record it and post it on youtube)
  40. If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King. Attempt to sell enough of your writing to “pay the light bill.”
  41. Intern/Volunteer/Get a job (that’s not fastfood or box stores…e.g., shadow someone interesting at work)
  42. Interview somebody over ninety years old about their life and opinions about topics of current interest. Ask them to discuss the greatest differences. Interview someone under seven in the same fashion.*
  43. Involve yourself in local government (push for a change, support a candidate, conduct a letter-writing campaign, etc.)
  44. Kill and clean a small animal. Cook and eat it. Don’t skip this one!*
  45. Landscape
  46. Learn about herbal medicine and apply what you’ve learned.
  47. Learn handyman skills and use them (plumbing, electrical, drywall, etc.)
  48. Learn how to whittle, build furniture, or other fine wood working
  49. Learn outdoor survival skills
  50. Learn performance skills (e.g. juggling)
  51. Learn to fly a plane (Wes Beach describes a teenager who did just that in his book Self-Directed Learning: Documentation and Life Stories)
  52. Look at apartments as if you were a potential renter. Be safe, bring a friend.
  53. Organize and manage a sports team or start a league of your own.
  54. Participate in or organize a historical reenactment.
  55. Pay your parents’ bills (or maybe just their utilities) for a month.
  56. Pick a daily newspaper. Read every single word. Underline as you read.*
  57. Plant a little tree; care for it for three years; keep notes on its progress and setbacks.*
  58. Produce/act/direct a play or movie.
  59. Raise meat animals…or better yet, insects…for personal consumption.
  60. Raise money for a cause
  61. Read 25 (or 50…or 75…or 100) books
  62. Remain silent, unspeaking, for a full day.*
  63. Repair a junk car until it passes inspection
  64. Research/take lessons in method acting. Spend a day as a different sex.*
  65. Select a book on a topic for which you have no interest. Read it in a single sitting cover to cover.*
  66. Sell home-made fudge on the street. Create advertising signs for your table.*
  67. Sleep out-of-doors under the stars all by yourself for two consecutive nights.*
  68. Spend a full day all by yourself in a wild place.*
  69. Start a band, play in a band, or learn an instrument.
  70. Start a small business.
  71. Start an underground newsletter.
  72. Start at least 5 conversations with complete strangers, and do more listening than speaking.
  73. Struggle to repair a damaged relationship.*
  74. Swim a lengthy distance (or in icy water).
  75. Take and pass college credit bearing tests (e.g. CLEP). Do this at least once, even if you don’t plan on going to college.
  76. Take college classes (for credit or sit-in).
  77. Throw away 3 (or 5…or 10) things a day and log them
  78. Track your water supply to its source; diagram its route.*
  79. Tutor or teach a particular subject.
  80. Visit 10 (or 20…or 30) historical sites/museums/aquariums.
  1. Visit the wholesale food markets for your city/region. Find out procedures to shop there as a customer. Do you need licenses? *
  2. Volunteer abroad.
  3. Volunteer to tutor reading or math in elementary school.*
  4. Walk for 2 hours first thing in the morning, every morning, for a month. Keep a journal on the experience.
  5. Walk ten full miles to a place you never were.*
  6. Walk/bike/drive a significant distance.
  7. Watch three TV shows for which you have no interest. Take notes.*
  8. Work with the family budget, make your own budget, and plan your own retirement
  9. Write a book (at least 50,000 words)
  10. Write a poem every day for 100 days. Take the ten best poems, edit as necessary, and publish them online.
  11. Write advertisements or parody advertisements. Record them and upload them to youtube.

 

*John Taylor Gatto, We Need Experience More Than We Need Algebra

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