This annual competition is open to all international high school students between the ages of 14–17, outside Australia and New Zealand.
Students work in teams and put their knowledge and skills in maths, science, design and engineering to the test in the creation of a ‘spaghetti machine’ — the Italian term for an overly complex machine or device that is used to perform a relatively simple task.
Now redesigned for students to compete in their teams physically distanced if need be.
This contest is coordinated by the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology.
To be notified as soon as 2021 registrations are open, submit an expression of interest:
Engineering and spaghetti
So, given that engineering is all about finding the most practical and efficient way to solve a problem, why are we trying to design and build a machine that’s overly complex and very inefficient?
The answer is simply this – design a machine that will perform the set task, whilst also being entertaining and amazing to watch! You will still be able to demonstrate many of the key principles of engineering during this task, including design, prototyping, construction, testing, and team and project management. There is also the opportunity to incorporate elements from a wide range of engineering disciplines, such as structural, electrical and electronic, mechanical, and chemical engineering!
Rube Goldberg and ‘The Self-Operating Napkin’…
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’.
The Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest International is open to all international high school students between the ages of 14–17, outside Australia and New Zealand.
Your knowledge and skills in maths, science, design and engineering are put to the test in the creation of a ‘spaghetti machine’ – an overly complex machine or device that is used to perform a relatively simple task.
To support the world’s brightest minds in the face of the continuing global COVID-19 challenge, we have continued to implement a fully-online structure for the Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest International. We will continue to run the competition in this manner and make it accessible for all in 2021. Read the ‘Rules’ section to understand how we have adapted the competition and how you can be involved!
Find out when registrations open and close, when the task will be announced, and the date of the contest.Find out more
Information on how to design your machine, and how the contest is judged.Find out more
Find out 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
Q & As
What do you need to create a spaghetti machine?
- a team that’s prepared and able to coordinate working in different places
- a space that you can build your machine in (and preferably one that allows you to leave it set up while you work on it)
- access to some basic tools and equipment to build with
- enough time set aside to work on it
- a way to communicate with your team members
The team will also need a teacher or staff member from the school to act as the supervisor for the project.
Finally, you’ll need plenty of imagination, creativity, and a willingness to experiment and improvise in order to come up with solutions!
How do we start creating a spaghetti machine?
Before you get down to hammering things together it’s probably a good idea to do a bit of research into other types of machines that have been created (check out our Video gallery) and to have a chat about what you want to do, and what you think you can manage. You’ll also want to think about what your resources are (people, space, equipment, time, skills, etc …) and how to organise yourselves to make best use of them. This might include allocating tasks for individual members, a schedule for what needs to be done by when (very important!), and how you want to keep track of who’s working on what.
What sort of materials will my team need?
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).
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.
2020 contest winners
Congratulations to Team XIV from Raffles Christian School, Pondok Indah Campus, Indonesia!
First runner up
Team B3AVERS^3 from Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Physics and Mathematics in Kokshetau
Second runner up
Team Tenacious from Raffles Christian School, Kebon Jeruk Campus, Indonesia
We would also like to say thank you for all the teams that submitted their entries. We loved looking at your amazing spaghetti machine creations
See you all again next year!