45 Hands on Projects & Ideas for High School Students

I am always looking for ways to engage my boys in learning.  My oldest son doesn't really like to read so I have been looking for way to incorporate hands- on projects that might interest him instead of just reading books about various subjects.

Here are some of the ideas (broken into core subjects) that I've come up with so far for some hands on learning that I think would be great for him.  We've even tried a few of them with pretty great results!


1. Make a model of the solar system or the layers of the earth.

2. Put together an electronic kit

3. Extract a strand of DNA from a strawberry or an onion

4. Dissect a fish, frog, worm, clam, cat, etc.

5. Build a vegetable garden or plant a few vegetables to take care of in pots

6. Build a model plant or animal cell using household items or food

7. Put together microscope slides and draw what you see

8. Grab a camera and go on a photographic nature or architecture hunt

9. Use gumdrops or marshmallows and toothpicks to build model molecules

10. Build a replica of the periodic table of elements using food or household supplies

11. Build a model of a DNA strand

12. Study kitchen chemistry and bake up something new

13.  Grow some germs in petri dishes and look at them under a microscope

History/ Geography:

14.  Put together a latitude and longitude scavenger hunt for younger students using maps of the region or a handheld GPS unit.

15. Interview a veteran or someone from an older generation to find what life was like for them growing up

16. Build a model of a battle from one of the wars they're studying

17. Draw a series of maps about one particular region being studied

18. Plan a family vacation using a budget; research the area, plan out activities, and calculate total cost

19. Plan a dream vacation; pick an exotic location, research the area, and calculate total travel time.

20. Make a brownie, cookie, or salt dough map of a geographical region.

21. Put together a scrapbook or power point presentation of world landmarks; why are these places landmarks?  Where are they located? When were they built?

22. Build a famous landmark out of Legos, clay, or blocks

23. Go to a cemetery and take some gravestones rubbings (if not against the law); maybe research those people and their impact on local history.

24. Join in on a reenactment

25.  Visit a historical museum or site and put together a photo diary of your visit.

26.  Draw a poster that represents the time you are studying in history.

27.  Make a documentary film about the local history of your area; interview museum staff or historians and include footage of actual historical buildings.

28.  Plan an entire meal based off a foreign country and cook it for the entire family.

Mathematics/ Engineering:

29. Build a roller coaster using geometry

30. Design a house plans or a room in a house to scale using graph paper

31. Design a bridge using spaghetti, tape, and glue.

32. Build geometric shapes using toothpicks and marshmallows

33. Give them 1 million dollars to plan their future (see Million Dollar Project at 4mula fun)

34. Design and carry out a survey; graph results in two ways.

35. Design and build a woodworking project.

Life skills:

36. Research several colleges and calculate total cost of enrollment (room and board or car and gasoline, how many years will it take to get degree, living on campus versus off campus, etc.)

37.  Help repair anything that is broken around the house; learning how to properly use all the tools in the toolbox.

38. Learn how to change the oil and replace a tire on the car

39. Determine if one person can live off of a minimum wage salary; research rents, clothing costs, and other household expenses.

40.  Cook an entire meal by yourself using only a cookbook to guide you.

41.  Learn to weld.

42.  Put together a weekly menu plan and grocery list using a household budget and the local sales flyers.

43.  Hem a pair of pants and sew a button onto a shirt or coat.

44.  Start a small lawn mowing business in your neighborhood.

45.  Put together a spring (or fall) cleaning list; remember to look beyond things that are cleaned every week.

What other types of skills or projects do you think would be fun and educational to do with teens?

Linking Up With:


  1. YOU are a superstar! I love that cell model pizza!

    1. Aw, thank you! I was pretty impressed when my oldest came up with that.. though he did pick a few of the toppings back off after labeling and "handing it in" before cooking.

  2. I was thinking we weren't very hands on anymore, but we've actually done or do a lot of these. Thanks for the perspective :)

    1. You're welcome!! It helps me too! As I wrote this I was thinking that we were more hands on that I originally thought too.

  3. I just love this list!
    Blessings, Dawn

  4. What a great list, and I love seeing the pictures! I have elementary school-aged kiddos, and I think they would actually enjoy a lot of these hands on project ideas! Thanks for sharing this post with us on the Embracing Home and Family link-up party. Hope to have you link up again with us this Friday!!


    1. Thank you! I loved working with elementary school aged kids as there is so much you can do that; they are still just soaking it up like a sponge at that age!


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