This is a bit of a different question than those usually posted here; I hope it is on-topic enough, as it is specifically concerning computer science. It's been bothering me for a while, and my efforts to find discourse on this elsewhere have failed:

What are some good introductory experiments or research projects that might be accessible to those in primary, secondary, or undergraduate schooling?

My father was a plant scientist, and I remember very clearly numerous times where he helped me, as a child, set up some standard "kid-friendly" experiments: Everything from the classic potato-in-a-jar-of-water and rock-candy-with-food-dye to more field-specific ones like watering one of two plants with dyed water and logging the differences and placing seedlings in different locations (say, in my bedroom vs outside) and noting how the plant adapts.

I'm looking for something like this for Computer Science for a few reasons: First, I want to run through a full research project while I am still in undergrad so that I am at least passingly familiar with the process when I enter grad school. But second and more importantly, my interests intersect with education in many ways, and I want to be prepared for a future in which I am teaching people (even in an informal setting) computer science—and without the answer to this question I can now see myself unable to do that to the best of my ability.

What I am /not/ looking for here, though, are /engineering/ projects, which are so prevalent in this sphere (from hackerrank/leetcode/advent of code style challenges to the projects in textbooks, this is an area we as a scientific community have focused on greatly). I'm definitely looking more towards the "science" part of the term "computer science"; I am much more interested in following OHEC than the SDLC. (I think this is why it's been so difficult for me to find answers online, to be honest, but now I am digressing.)

Alternatively, I'm looking for recommendations on how to find this information… though I am not certain this exists in an accessible way at this point.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Computer Science! Unfortunately, your question is not a good fit for the Stack Exchange format. We prefer questions that have objectively correct answers that will be useful both to the asker and others who have the same question in the future. What is or is not a suitable topic for study, projects or research is very much a matter of opinion and depends crucially on the interests and skills of the person who will be doing the work and the support that will be available to them. This is a question that you should be asking your professors. $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ @D.W. I'm not sure I agree that there is no objective answer to this question, as there /is/ such an answer in other scientific fields, to the point where the term "baking-soda and vinegar volcano" is instantly recognizable to most of my peers, regardless of their actual profession or field of study. I do agree professors can weigh in on this in a way that can be helpful, and they may even have less general suggestions more suited to how I am used to working as I already have a relationship with them, but the idea that there's no answer to the query "introductory CS experiment" is flawed. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ This opinion is, in my opinion, indicative of one of the issues I think CS in general has with wider adoption, especially among those who are not already in the computing sphere (but may be interested): There is a mystique around CS that makes it this ephemeral, untouchable entity for those not already experienced with it: This is why "programming" is viewed by non-programmers as such a talent-heavy skill. If CS is meant to actually be a science, we as computer scientists should be working to lower that barrier to entry as much as possible. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ That said, we can close this question if it is not a good fit for this site. However, I question what exactly /is/ a good fit, that would not be better suited to an "Engineering" site. Some questions on other SE scientific communities that were deemed on-topic: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/85383/… chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/59668/… physics.stackexchange.com/questions/229372/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ I hear where you are coming from. I'm a bit confused about what you are seeking; in one case you say you want a research experience, in another it sounds like you want a standard project like a high school science fair volcano project. Those are very different. Anyway, I leave it to the community to address as they deem fit, by answering this, voting to close, or otherwise. $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 22:03


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.