In 2023 the Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest is getting a makeover!
In collaboration with the Telstra Creator Space (TCS), this year we are relaunching the contest to host an immersive experience for participants.
Teams of 4 to 6 students will come on to campus and spend a full day at the TCS fabrication lab where they will have the opportunity to design and build their machines. Using repurposed materials provided by us, students will use circular economy principles to create a complex machine that performs a single task. A few weeks later teams will return to campus for competition day when machines will be put to the test and the best creations will be rewarded with amazing prizes.
Teams can submit their expression of interest to participate now!
Find out when registrations open and close, when the task will be announced, and the date of the contest.Find out more
Task & Teams
Find out the task for the contest. See the list of schools competing in this year’s contest.Find out more
Information on how to design your machine, how the contest is judged and what prizes you can win.Find out more
How to enter
Find out more about how to get a team together and get registered for the contest.Find out more
Represent your school in our Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest.
Year 10 students from across Australia are invited to participate in our annual Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest. Students work in teams and put their maths, science, engineering and project management skills to the test in the creation of a ‘spaghetti machine’ — an overly complex device.
In previous years, teams worked on designing, planning and building their machines over five months before demonstrating their creations on-campus at the University of Melbourne or via video on 'Competition day'.
In 2023, the Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest has been reformatted and participants will attend a full-day immersive session at the Telstra Creator Space where they will be provided with guidance, materials and tools to build their machines prior to returning for 'Competition day'.
To see some example spaghetti machines in action, view our Spaghetti workshop videos.
Engineering and spaghetti
So if you’re building a machine that’s overly complex and therefore somewhat inefficient, what does it have to do with engineering? After all, isn't it supposed to be all about finding the most practical and efficient way to solve a problem?
The answer is that the machine is really designed to entertain and amaze, as well as perform the set task.
There are still plenty of ways to demonstrate the basic principles of engineering, including the methods of approaching design, testing, construction, and the project management and teamwork that make a successful machine. Of course, there’s also the chance to incorporate some pretty cool elements from engineering disciplines including structural, electrical and electronic, mechanical, and chemical engineering.
For more spaghetti machine inspiration, check out US inventor and cartoonist Rube Goldberg’s ideas.
Rube Goldberg and ‘The Self-Operating Napkin’…
One such concept by Goldberg was ’The Self-Operating Napkin’ — activated when the soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin.
The US inventor and cartoonist Rube Goldberg was a master of Spaghetti Machine ideas, so much so that they are sometimes also known as ‘Rube Goldberg machines’.
Welcome to the Spaghetti Workshop, where you can learn more about what it takes to plan and build a spaghetti machine, catch video episodes of tips and tricks, and get inspiration for your creation from some of the other fantastic machines from around the world.
Tip: Don’t get too complicated! Plan what you think you can achieve in the time you’ve got!
Q & As
What do you need to create a spaghetti machine?
You’ll need a team that’s prepared and able to work together and is also committed to attend both 'Build day' and 'Competition day'.
You’ll also need plenty of imagination, creativity, and a willingness to experiment and improvise in order to come up with solutions!
How many people do I need to form a spaghetti machine team?
Due to the immersive format of the contest this year, teams should be between 4 and 6 students. Please ensure that all team members are committed to attend both 'Build day' and 'Competition day'. At least 4 members of each team must be able to attend 'Build day', otherwise the team will be disqualified.
How do we start creating a spaghetti machine?
This year's task will be announced on 3 May and teams will have a few weeks before attending 'Build day' to consider what they can do to achieve the task. Go ahead and do a bit of research into other types of machines that have been created (check out our Video gallery) and discuss with your team what you want to do, and what may be required to achieve it.
Communication and planning skills are key to be a spaghetti machine superstar!
What sort of materials will my team need?
In 2023, all materials will be provided by the contest organisers. The Telstra Creator Space will support this year's contest and provide tools and guidance so that teams can bring their machines to life.
The great thing about spaghetti machines is that they can be made from just about anything. Wood, old bits of metal or plastic, toys, recycled gadgets or machine parts, everyday household items … you name it. We’re interested in seeing how inventive you can be, including your ability to recycle or re-purpose existing objects or materials for your design. Just keep in mind that whatever you use needs to be safe (for you to work with and for spectators to look at).
What will 'Build day' entail?
At least 4 team members from each team will be required to attend 'Build day' at the Telstra Creator Space located on the ground floor of Melbourne Connect near Parkville Campus, to design and build their machine.
'Build day' will go from 9am to 4pm and will run during school holiday in June/July. Teams will receive an invitation to attend 'Build day' when successful participating teams and this year's task are announced on Wednesday 3 May. The complete schedule for the day will also be sent then.
Check out this gallery of videos showing machines we think are pretty awesome. Some are instructional, some are inspirational, and some are just plain funny.