KELTON, TX (KFDA) - Gears are turning, hands are tinkering, and minds are working. The robotics team at Kelton ISD is hard at work.
"We just like tinkering with stuff and building stuff and robotics is the perfect competition for that," said Brock Buckingham, a Kelton robotics student.
In a special school that is focused on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, the robotics team is a unique asset to the school.
"We don't have a football team or any big sports or anything, so robotics is kind of our big thing here," said Roy Herndon, a Kelton robotics teacher.
"Big thing" is right. This team of about a dozen students beat out schools from across Texas during a state competition in Lubbock and are now heading to nationals.
"It's a really big thing for us. We're kind of like the smallest school in probably Texas, almost, so we beat out bigger schools," said Herndon.
The team heads out early next week for a national robotics competition in Georgia. And get this - it's not the first time or the second time they've gone. This marks the third year in a row that the Kelton School's robotics team is making it to the national stage.
"Three years in a row, amazing. These boys did it when they were eighth graders, they did it when they were freshmen, they've done it when they're sophomores. I would venture to say there's no one else in the country that's done that," said Kevin Dougherty, a Kelton robotics teacher.
For the students, that accomplishment does not go unnoticed.
"It's pretty exciting, knowing we're this small and we can still beat 5A, 6A schools even though we have 24 kids in the high school," said Mark Herndon, a Kelton robotics student.
For the team, known as the Robotic Chinchillas FTC 9778, nationals also gives them the opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow students from across the country.
"At the competition, it's fun working with the other teams and seeing how amazing the robots are," said Buckingham.
"It's really cool going and seeing all the teams, what their designs are, and meeting new people," said Herndon.
With just days away from the "big game" in robotics, these students recognize the special quality that makes their team unique.
"Robotics isn't the same as like basketball or football. It's more about how good you are at building the robots, it's not how many good players you have for your team," said Buckingham.
Kelton's team is not the only school representing West Texas at this year's nationals. A team from Plainview ISD will be competing as well.