It’s Friday morning at Doby’s Mill Elementary School in Lugoff. Six students are gathered around a low-pitched table filled with Lego pieces and parts.

A small robot nicknamed “Shrimp” moves around the table performing drills the fifth-graders dub “missions.”

“They told me this morning it was not running,” said volunteer coach William Lee, referring to a program known as “pizza reverse,” in which Shrimp was trying to pick up a disc about the size of a penny.

Pizza reverse isn’t doing exactly what it’s supposed to, but after some slight tweaking of the robot’s software on a nearby laptop, Shrimp is back on track.

It might sound like play, but it’s serious work for these members of the Doby’s Mill robotics team, GRIT, or Great Robots in Training, who are preparing Shrimp for this week’s FIRST LEGO League national robotics competition in St. Louis.

The competition is composed of three parts: robotics, a research project and core values — all integral parts of science, technology and engineering fields and keys to the success of any real-world engineering team.

Having recently won the state competition for the fourth year in a row and placed in the top 50 nationally, the Doby’s Mill group is the only South Carolina team going to the weeklong competition.

Once in St. Louis, the students will present their findings and go up against 86 other teams in their division. Teams are judged on project concept, robot missions and exhibit space.