2021 contest rules

If you would like more information about these rules, contact:
Email: spaghettimachine-eng@unimelb.edu.au

Contest entry and registration

Tuesday 9 March 2021 9am (AEDT): Registrations open

Tuesday 16 March 2021 11:59pm (AEDT): Registrations close

  • Register on the contest website from 9.00am Tuesday 9 March 2021.
  • The contest is open only to Victorian high-school students enrolled in year 10.
  • A maximum of twenty-six (26) teams will be accepted in the 2021 contest. Registrations will be accepted in the order in which they have been made. Once the limit of 26 teams has been reached any further applicants will be notified that all places have been filled. A list of successfully registered teams will be posted on the contest website on Friday 19 March. Successful teams will also be notified at this time by email.
  • Only one team per school may register for the contest.
  • Each entry must nominate a school staff member to act as Team Supervisor and contact point for the team.


  • Each team will be required to build a machine according to the task set by the University of Melbourne.
  • The task will be announced on the website at 10am on Thursday 18 March 2021. Building can commence from this date.
  • The machine should be able to complete the task as set by the contest organisers.
  • The machine should be contained in an area no larger than 1.3m (W) x 1.3m (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.
  • The machine must have a minimum of 12 steps. There is no maximum number of 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 30 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. Any power requirements the machine has must be supplied by battery. Teams are responsible for providing their own batteries.


  • To assist with construction of their machine, successful registrants of the contest will receive a $70 store voucher for Bunnings Warehouse.
  • These vouchers are to be used for buying parts or materials for the team’s spaghetti machine.
  • Schools are not required to return the unspent portions of vouchers at the end of the construction period.
  • Once sent, vouchers and their security are the responsibility of the Team Supervisor. Lost or stolen vouchers will not be replaced.
  • Vouchers are to be used only by the Team Supervisor or team members. Selling, auctioning, or exchanging of vouchers is forbidden and will result in the team responsible for the voucher being disqualified from competition.
  • If a school withdraws from the competition before the vouchers are used they will be required to return the vouchers to the University of Melbourne to:

    Email: spaghettimachine-eng@unimelb.edu.au


  • Judging will take place on Thursday 5 August 2021 at the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus.
  • 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 8:30am to 11:00am to complete the setup of their machines at their designated area prior to the commencement of judging.
  • At the end of the contest, teams will be required to pack up and remove their machine from the contest venue including all rubbish and parts of the machine
  • 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 30 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’.
    • Use of materials: the innovative use of materials, with particular emphasis on recycled or re-purposed materials. The team with the top score in this category will receive the ‘Green Machine 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, as well as the look of the machine.
    • 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 6 August 2021. 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 team are:
    • A ‘Spaghetti Champions’ trophy for the team that wins the ‘Spaghetti with Everything’ award.
    • $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.
    • $400 voucher for Science Supply Australia, to be spent at the discretion of the winning school.
  • Trophies will also be awarded for the following award sub-categories:
    • Green Machine
    • Technical Excellence
    • Audience Choice
  • Use of Materials

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: spaghettimachine-eng@unimelb.edu.au
  • Teams will be encouraged to submit and upload images of their machine to Melbourne School of Engineering social media channels such as Instagram (#spagmachine) during the contest and in the lead up.

How to enter