Contest rules

Eligibility and registration

  • The contest is open only to high-school students enrolled in year 10.
  • A maximum of eighteen (18) teams will be accepted in the 2023 contest.
  • Teams should consist of a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 members (excluding the Team Supervisor).
  • On the registration form each school must nominate a staff member to act as Team Supervisor and contact point for the team. The Team Supervisor must be able to attend 'Competition day' with the option to attend 'Build day'.
  • All registrations will be reviewed after the registration period closes and depending on the number of teams registered only one team per school may be allowed in the competition.
  • Once the 18 participating teams has been decided, all other applicants will be notified that places have been filled. A list of successfully registered teams will be posted on the contest website. Successful teams will also be notified at this time by email.
  • Organisers will place all unsuccessful teams on a wait list and if places become available they will be offered by Friday 2 June.

Refer to schedule for other key dates.

Design and 'Build day'

  • Each team will be required to build a machine according to the task set by the organisers of the contest.
  • Successful teams will receive an email with the brief for 'Build day'. Teams will be invited to attend one of the 'Build day' sessions which will be held during schools holidays. Team are required to confirm attendance by Friday 26 May. At least 4 members of the team must be able to attend 'Build day', otherwise the team will be disqualified and their place will be offered to another team.
  • 'Build day' will be delivered at the Telstra Creator Space located on the Ground Floor of Melbourne Connect near Parkville Campus.
  • All materials to build the machine will be provided to teams on 'Build day'.
  • Teams may come to 'Build day' with ideas for the design of their machines however, they will not be allowed to enter any external materials into the Telstra Creator Space.
  • Teams should focus on creating a machine that completes the task as set by the contest organisers.
  • The machine should be contained in an area no larger than 1m (W) x 1m (D) x 1.5m (H). The machine may be smaller than these dimensions.
  • The machine must be transportable to take part in the judging event at the University of Melbourne.
  • All machines will be stored at the Telstra Creator Space and transported by contest organisers to Wilson Hall where 'Competition day' will take place.
  • The machine must have 5 steps. A ‘step’ is defined as the transfer of energy from one action to another action (e.g. a series of dominoes collapsing that then triggers another action is a step).
  • Identical transfers of energy in succession should be considered one step (e.g. two separate sets of domino lines in succession, with one line triggering the next is considered one step).
  • Machines have a minimum time limit of 20 seconds, and a maximum time limit of 2 minutes in which to complete the task.
  • The machine should not present a safety risk to either its operators or to spectators standing within 1 metre of it. This should be achieved through appropriate safeguards within the design, and the avoidance of dangerous materials or parts within the machine structure. Machines that are not considered safe by event organisers at the judging event will not be allowed to operate.
  • The machine must not contain any:
    • Hazardous materials
    • Explosives
    • Naked flame
    • Live animals
  • There will be no access to a wall socket power outlet.

Judging and 'Competition day'

  • 'Competition day' will take place on Thursday 3 August 2023 at the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus. All machines will be judged and prizes will be awarded on the day.
  • All teams will be allocated a designated area on the floor of the judging venue in which to setup their machine, as per the design parameters outlined above
  • Teams will have from 9:00am to 11:00am to work and refine their machines at their designated area prior to the commencement of judging.
  • At the end of 'Competition day', teams will be required to disassemble their machine and sort materials as per the contest organisers instructions on the day.
  • The order of machine presentation will be determined by the event organisers.
  • There will be two rounds of judging with each team running their machines once per round. Teams will have the time between their first and second round runs to reset their machines in preparation for the next run. Judging will be based on both attempts.
  • After the machine launches, human intervention or interaction with the machine while running (ie: to ‘fix’ a problem or reset a step) is permitted, but will attract a penalty for each interaction.
  • All entries will be judged on the design and performance of the machine, according to the following criteria:
    • Reliability: the ability of the machine to achieve the task with minimal human interaction over two separate runs that are judged accumulatively.
    • Timing: the task should be completed in a time span between 20 seconds and 2 minutes.
    • Technical design: diversity in types of energy transfer used in the machine, along with the level of technical complexity and sophistication involved. The team with the top score in this category will receive the ‘Technical Excellence' award.
    • Presentation: entertainment and amazement value of the machine, and the team’s use of display materials in their display area to illustrate the machine’s function and their creative process. The judges will also consider the way members of the team are able to verbally explain the machines, and their understanding of circular economy principles and how they were applied to the machine. The team with the top score will receive the 'Best Presentation' award.
    • Audience Choice: one vote will be allowed for every person attending the event, visitors and spectators alike, via an online form. The team with the most votes will receive the 'Audience Choice' award.


  • Prizes and awards will be presented to contest winners and winners of sub-categories (detailed below) at the conclusion of the judging event. Prize winners will be published online at the contest website after Friday 4 August 2023. The judges’ decision is final and no appeals or protest will be heard.
  • Prizes will be presented to the team and will be the responsibility of the Team Supervisor.
  • The prizes for the winning teams are:
    • 1st place: A ‘Spaghetti Champions’ trophy for the team that wins the ‘Spaghetti with Everything’ award and $400 voucher for Science Supply Australia, to be spent at the discretion of the winning school.
    • 2nd place: $250 cash prize (to go towards a team celebration event nominated by the team supervisor). This will be presented in the form of an EFTPOS gift card.
  • Trophies will also be awarded for the following award sub-categories:
    • Technical Excellence
    • Best Presentation
    • Audience Choice

Photos and video

  • The University of Melbourne may also take photos and video of person attending the contest, as well as teams and Team Supervisors. Photos and video may appear on the contest website, internal reporting documents and the University’s promotional material for similar events. Please direct all enquiries relating to this to:Email:
  • Teams will be encouraged to submit and upload images of their machine to Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology social media channels such as Instagram (#spagmachine) during the contest and in the lead up.

How to enter