You have received a wealth of topics. I have tried over the years to find topics that my kids would find interesting. I tied them to a novel we would be doing in class. I had them research aspects of life during the Middle Ages and the Elizabethan era when we read Shakespeare. (The guys loved doing things on castles, weapons, armor. The girls researched food, clothes, make-up, hair and jewelry.) Sometimes the kids would work as groups, sharing research, each writing a short (different) paper and giving a short presentation. Sometimes the kids would try to reproduce foods from that time and bring it in. The kids liked that, but the kids found it hard to get together outside of school to work as a group.
I tried having them select topics from Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire." There was a lot to choose from, but I found kids only wanted to cut and paste reports about Space monkeys or the Cold War, etc.
I always felt that finding something a student really cared about would be a great idea. I think this was mentioned above. However, the thing always missing to a greater degree each year has been motivation and an intrinsic desire to do well. Fighting apathy has, over the past ten years, become my most difficult stumbling block.
However, with so much in the media that affects kids, it might be easy, as was mentioned, to get kids to research technology (Steve Jobs, Apple, laws governing cellphone use, online bullying, etc.). My daughter has become interested in how teens are being influenced (manipulated) to buy into the slim, pretty, long-legged, shapely toned female vision of the perfect girls on TV and in the print media to go out and buy the clothes, make-up, etc. The guys are presented with visions of athletic, muscular role models. The content of the research I've seen her bring home is not surprising: the girls care more than the guys do.
What is really surprising is the amount of money teens spend each year, and how advertising agencies find trend-setting teens to study, and then promote their looks/behaviors to other kids, and tap into the ENORMOUS financial money pool that young people control. I wish all kids wanted to do this paper: if we are saavy enough, adults can figure out when they're being sold an underwater bridge; many kids believe all the lies they are fed, and end up with depression, eating disorders, etc.
That is a topic I find very interesting!! And there is more available today than ever before: lots of studies.