Remember when kids used to sleep in on Saturdays, and if they woke up early, watch cartoons? Welcome to 2011, folks, when high school students spend their weekend mornings building robots.

The future, she has arrived.

The six-week 2011 FIRST Robotics Competition kicks off tomorrow at Northeast's McKinley Technology High School as 30 Washington-area teams receive their building kits and guidelines. Regional competitions are in March and April, then culiminate in the April 27-30 championship in St. Louis.

The annual event awards $14 million in scholarships to the students who most successfully design and build a robot as a solution to a technical engineering problem that varies each year. About half of the local teams hail from the District.