BLOW into the machine's whistle and a balloon inflates, which rolls a ball into a bucket, breaks a circuit and sets off dozens more steps that complete a simple task to raise a flag.
Emmanuel College science club students have worked quietly on a large contraption outside of classes and on weekends, before they entered it in the University of Melbourne's 'amazing spaghetti machine competition' last Friday.
Using circuits, wood scraps, weights, gravity and household items the 10 budding scientists built the machine to complete 38 steps to hoist a flag in under two minutes.
Judged against school students who built machines to complete the same task in similarly overly complex steps, the Emmanuel students received the 'green machine' award for their use of recycled materials.
Year Nine student Jace Nepean said students had rigorously trialled the invention, but had never successfully hoisted the flag until competition day.
"We were pretty happy when it first worked. Not many work, most of them need intervention, so everyone cheered," Jace said. "We have done the competition for 12 years and I think that's the first time it has worked without any interruptions."
Physics teacher Nigel Bailey said the machine was among the best his students had ever entered in the competition.
"And they ran it the best," he said. "They worked well as a team."
Mr Bailey said the competition had challenged students, not just scientifically but also to explain their machine to judges, show leadership, and perform to a crowd.
"It's allowed a couple of our kids to come out of their shells and develop all-round. Each of them brings different skills," he said.
"You have to work to get each step 100 per cent right. And engineering wise, that's the true part of it."
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.