150th Anniversary / News / Slideshow

Amazing Spaghetti Machine Competition goes international

Click to view all the videos produced for the international Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest.

International students conquered insurmountable odds to compete in the first international edition of  The Amazing Spaghetti Machine Competition. While floods in Thailand forced some teams to withdraw from the competition, power shortages in Vietnam created a challenge for others.

Congratulations to Team Collaboration from Traill International School in Bangkok, who were the winners of the inaugural 2011 international competition! Congratulations also to highly commended schools New International School Thailand, K. International School Tokyo – Boys team and Hanoi Amsterdam School for the Gifted.

The Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest was launched in 2011 as part of the Melbourne School of Engineering’s 150th anniversary celebrations. The contest is an annual competition for school students in which knowledge and skills in maths, science, engineering, and project management are put to the test in the creation of a ‘spaghetti machine’ – an overly complex machine used to perform a relatively simple task.

From September to November in 2011, the Melbourne School of Engineering invited school teams in Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan to take part in the very first international edition of the Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest. Contestants were required to design and build the most original, entertaining, and logic-defyingly complex machine they could to launch a music track that would play on an audio device such as a stereo, ipod, or mp3 player.

Students from a select number of international schools were invited to participate. Teams were required to submit a video of the machine in operation and a step by step description of how the machine worked.

The American School of Bangkok, reported that they were having difficulty in coordinating their teams, due to school closures and evacuations caused by the widespread flooding in Bangkok. Despite this the teams were enthusiastic about the competition and determined to make their submission to the competition no matter what.

University of Melbourne organiser of the competition Ms Yin Ingamells said that even when schools resumed, many of the students and staff were still affected as homes were either still under water or damaged by water.

“One school which registered 5 teams is still under water so naturally, they were not able to complete” Yin said

Gail Elliott, teacher from Traill International School said that flooding in Thailand had affected a number of students in the school’s two teams.

“A few of the students’ houses have been flooded and schools in Bangkok have been closed down until the 7th of November,” Ms Elliott said.

As a result of these difficulties the deadline for the competition was extended from Nov 11 to Nov 30.

Meanwhile, teams in Vietnam were facing their own difficulties. Thao Tran Trong from the Hanoi Amsterdam high school contacted Yin to say that his team would be submitting their video despite issues with power blackouts.

“My house has been in darkness for three full days due to several consecutive blackouts. Unfortunately, everything related to our machine is stored on my computer,” Thao said.

To enable the team to access the computer and make the video submission Thao’s parents leased a generator.

Despite the obstacles faced and the teams who had to withdraw, nine very high quality submissions were received and the judges had a very difficult time deciding on a winner. All the students and teachers who participated in the competition deserve to be congratulated not only for the creativity and ingenuity of their machines, but for the time and commitment they gave to the contest, in often difficult circumstances and for the fantastic videos they produced.

Video submissions were judged by a panel of academic staff from the Melbourne School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne. Machines were assessed for their reliability, timing, variety of components and innovative use of materials.

Traill International School’s Team Collaboration, consisting of four students and their teacher, will receive a trip to Australia to visit the University of Melbourne, to attend a two week residential Young Leaders Program. All participants received a copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize.

Video entries can be viewed online.

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