In undergrad we spent a few weeks attempting to reproduce Dr. Taleyarkhan work on sonic cavitation experiments in deuterated acetone. While there is much controversy surrounding the this type of fusion, it is an interesting and simple experiment, but hard to get reliable results.
For students it is be exciting to be apart of the human quest for fusion power. And is useful as a teaching tool for all methods of fusion. Taking part in a controversial research project can be very stimulating.
The experiment can be attempted using a pyrex 100mL flask and placed piezoelectric speakers at key locations. The flask is filled with deuterated acetone and the speakers are modulated at different frequencies until cavitation and sonoluminescence is achieved. Their are several types of neutron detectors that can be used. Some of them cheaper than others but less sensitive.
Anyways, just an idea. Alternatively, you can also build a fusor, which is a bit more involved but with the right setup could also work for a short term project, would require you todo some pre-building. http://www.fusor.net/
-alot cheaper than ITER or Lawrence Livermore laser confinement...