FIRST® Tech Challenge is more than just building robots, it contains elements of engineering documentation, outreach, and more. While the majority of Game Manual 0 talks about how to make decisions about creating your robot, the portfolio you write is actually showing how you made those decisions and how you impact the STEM community around you in a positive way.
It only benefits you to go for awards. You can’t win awards without making a portfolio, and in certain states the only way to advance is awards and in others it can make it significantly easier to advance. In the past an engineering notebook was required for awards, however this is no longer true. Therefore, these are the topics that will be covered in this section of Game Manual 0.
Judging and awards are extremely subjective and some rules change a bit from state to state. What works in one region may not in other regions. So contact your judges about specifics of some things; for example some competitions allow you to turn a custom control award sheet, others only accept the one listed by FIRST. The writers of this part of Game Manual 0 have extensive experience with awards and have even been winners and finalists for the Inspire Award at the World Championships.
For most awards, teams have a 5 minute presentation at the beginning of the day followed by some Q&A time and possibly pit judging later on (read the section on the judging process for more detail). There are 7 awards for FTC® teams (excluding awards that cannot advance a team).
For winning every award, the Engineering Portfolio is a key reference and is quintessential, so make sure that your team focuses on the Engineering Portfolio.
Always remember that regardless of how well you feel you did, awards have a level of subjectivity of the judges, so there is no way to 100% control how your team does for awards.
Overall, awards are one of the core parts of the FIRST Tech Challenge competition. They recognize teams at the end of every competition (except league meets) as well as determine many of the teams that advance.