Welcome to the Forums. I got the idea for my research after watching a NOVA special on Dr. Eugene Shoemaker and his wife Caroline. Dr. Shoemaker was involved in a lot of the pioneering work that established impact cratering as an active, ongoing, and important geologic process. After watching the show, I started to learn what I could about impact cratering and related fields of study, such as geology, astronomy, chemistry, and physics. I started with websites and encyclopedias, then progressed to college and graduate level textbooks, review papers, and eventually moved to focusing almost exclusively on research articles. This happened over a period of a few years, mind you. Eventually it got the point where I was familiar enough with the literature to have a sense of what questions needed to be answered and so then set off rather brazenly to answer them. As I’m sure ChrisG can attest, my first impact-related project was not the most refined or rigorous project in the world, but with each passing year I increased in skill and technical ability.
As far as classes I took in high school, in general I took the most rigorous and challenging courses I could, including honors and AP classes. With regards to math and science, that means I took algebra, geometry, precalculus/trigonometry, calculus, statistics, biology, chemistry, physics, oceanology, and advanced research. I am currently in college where I am studying geology with an emphasis in planetary studies, which grossly translates into taking courses in math, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, and geography. I am also involved in research related to NASA’s Return to the Moon program and, of course, chemical speciation in meteorite impacts.
As far as ideas for a complex project, that is something that only you can answer. My advice is to find something you are passionately interested in, learn as much as you can about that something, and then ask yourself what questions need to be answered with regards to that topic. Here is some more concrete advice: http://sciencebuddies.org/science-fair- ... 2008.shtml
Let me know if I can be of further help; good luck on your project!