I am a high school student in an innovations class. I am wondering what could be a simple project with the photon to help give me a better understanding, while also making something simple but interesting.
For many people a good starter project is a simple weather station. Get a photon and a DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor. It’s easy to hook up and the code is supported using the libraries. You can read and publish the weather data very easily. If you want to expand, get a second photon and have it subscribe to the weather publications. That teaches the publish/subscribe model pretty well. Good luck and have fun.
As @Muskie said a weather station is a good start. You could also add to that and go the other way, by calling functions on the device, such as calling severeWeather() from the cloud (maybe via IFTTT?) that sounds an alarm or flashes a light on the Photon.
you can find lots of projects that may be a source of inspiration for you, here:
Post back if you have questions!