Real Life Minecraft – What Is Obsidian?

What is obsidian


Part two of our series on the features on Minecraft asks the question – What IS Obsidian anyway? In Minecraft, Obsidian is a deep purple and black block known for its high blast resistance and strength, but what is Obsidian in real life like, and what is it used for? (Hover over words in CAPITALS for further explanation).


Obsidian is sometimes known as ‘Nature’s Glass’, because of its smooth, glassy appearance. It is an [infopopup:Igneous] rock which forms when molten rock (i.e. lava) cools very quickly. The speed of the cooling means that crystals didn’t have time to form.


Where Can I Find Obsidian?




Since obsidian is formed by the cooling of molten rock, the obvious place to start looking for it would be around a volcano, right? That doesn’t narrow it down much, because we are looking for places which have experienced [infopopup:rhyolitic] eruptions, which include Argentina, Armenia, Canada, Chile, Greece, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Scotland and United States.


What Does Obsidian Look Like?



The rocks have a glassy appearance and while black is the most common colour, other colours such as red, dark brown are also known. As mentioned in the above video, obsidian flows very slowly. Other obsidian flows may occur on top of each other, giving the rock a stripy, or streaked appearance. Obsidian is somewhat brittle, which means that it break easily. The edges of broken obsidian can be extremely sharp.


What is Obsidian Used For?


The sharp edges of obsidian were used as far back as the 9th millennium BC to serve as knives, scrapers and razors. In the Bronze Age, obsidian was used as tools and weapons, eg arrowheads, but also for vases and other objects. Obsidian was highly valued, and ancient people mined, transported and traded in obsidian over distances of up to a thousand miles.

The sharp cutting edge of obsidian means that even today it is used in medicine. Thin blades of obsidian are used for modern surgical scalpels, used for precision surgery. It is equal or better than surgical steel!

Obsidian is also used in jewellery, often as highly polished beads, but it is easily broken or damaged, which limits it’s usage slightly. It’s more likely to be found in necklaces or earrings, rather than rings or bracelets. This lack of hardness brings advantages – it’s relatively easy to carve. Artists have been using obsidian to make sculptures and figurines for thousands of years.

Featured Image by Jason Clor, via Flickr



5 Simple Steps to Put on a Play


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Have you ever wanted to put on a  play but felt like it’s just too tricky to know where to start? Love drama but don’t know how to make the whole thing up yourself?

It can seem like a big task but Laura Bates has worked out some simple steps you can follow to get started!


Choose a Story





You can make up a story yourself or choose a classic story from your favourite book or a famous tale – anything that catches your imagination. Try to start with something not too complicated (the whole Harry Potter series might be a bit too much for a first attempt!!)

One great idea is to pick a traditional story and then change it around a bit – what about a Sleeping Beauty where it’s the Prince who is cursed and the Princess who fights through the brambles to save him, or a funny ending where the things don’t quite go to plan as they do in the original?


 Pick 5 Important Moments



Choose the most important things that happen in your chosen story to give it its basic storyline – as if you were giving a friend the summarised version of what happens.

For example:

-A baby prince is born and everybody in the castle celebrates.

– The wicked fairy curses the prince at his christening.

– At the age of 21, the Prince pricks his finger on an enchanted arrow while hunting.

– The Prince and all the castle and subjects fall into a deep sleep for many years.

– A brave Princess rides by on her horse and hacks her way into the castle to wake the Prince.


 Create a Frozen Picture of each Moment





Think of showing your audience a still photograph of each one of your important moments – who would be standing where, how can you make it look striking and dramatic? Here are some top tips:

-Use different heights and poses to make the picture more interesting – one person could be reaching up high and another might be crouched on the ground.

-Remember that you can create objects in your image too – think of making a human staircase or using a human tower to show the heights of the castle!

-Just standing in the right place isn’t enough to show your audience what’s going on – use facial expressions to really show what each character is thinking. In the tableau around the new-born baby, for example, the wicked fairy might be lurking at the back, looking devious and plotting her mischief!


 Add Speech to Each Picture

For each of your important moments, choose a few key lines to bring the story to life. These could be lines of dialogue, showing what the characters are thinking and feeling, or a sentence spoken by a narrator to explain to the audience what is going on in the scene. Share these out evenly so everybody gets to say some lines. Remember, the narrator doesn’t have to be the same person all the way through the play. You can even use simple costumes like hats or scarves to show who the main characters are – this way the person playing the part doesn’t have to be the same in every scene!


Make your Pictures Move!




Now for the fun part! Add in a few actions to bring each picture to life. They can be simple, repeated movements that play over and over again to make the moment stick vividly in the audience’s mind. Or perhaps a string of different movements to show the different events that happen one after another in that scene.

Finally, allow the movement at the end of each scene to blend into the beginning of the next picture. You can use all sorts of exciting effects for these transitions, from slow-motion transformations between characters to sudden changes of height and position for a dramatic change. Let your imagination run wild!

Once you’ve completed these 5 simple steps, put it all together and you’ll find that your play has taken shape as if by magic! Now you can add in any extra dialogue or moments you think are necessary to polish it off. Adding in some good music can help to bring out the tension or excitement of key moments too – you could always include some songs or take advantage of any musical instruments you know how to play.

Once your play is polished to perfection, you’re ready to make your own tickets and programmes and present your performance to your family and friends.


Lights, camera…ACTION!




Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project 


Featured Image courtesy of Flickr


Toys and Games, Uncategorized

Angry Birds Epic Game Review

We get Wesley Williams from FamilyGamerTV to go hands on with the Angry Birds Epic role-playing game on the iPad and delve deep into the first levels of Red’s quest to recover the stolen eggs from the evil Wiz Pig! Watch as we fight off a variety of King Pig’s subjects in turn-based battles, free Chuck from their evil clutches, explore our first dungeon and craft a new weapon with all the loot we acquire along the way.



Raising Feminist Boys

Our contributor is mother to two boys and a girl. She has recently been thinking about raising her boys, and the expectations society has of them. 


Raising boys to have a feminist perspective is harder than it should be. The media, peer pressure and the response of other adults allow a view of boys being the hero boys being tough to be perpetuated.

I have a daughter and two boys, my daughter is frustrated when in their play she is always the one to be ‘rescued’ There are ways to challenge this notion. By looking for male role models who respect women and who see women as equals, there is book about cinderella where she rides a motorbike and rescues the prince. I wish I could remember the title.

By showing boys it’s ok to have emotions, and allowing them to express them. The phrase ‘boys don’t cry’ should be banned.

By showing boys for example that mum can check tyre pressures, top up windscreen wash, and dad can do the ironing or cleaning up. Stereotypical roles can be challenged.

By encouraging them to see that all people are equal beings with similar hopes and dreams and by educating them about power, privilege and the responsibilities which come with these.

Hopeful knowledge is power and will allow my children to recognise its what they want to do in life that matters not their gender.



What do you think? Do the adults around you treat you differently to the boys? 



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Writing Competition for Girls – Flo, 15 Years

Written By You

These posts were written by our young readers. If you'd like to contribute to Jump! Mag, read our guidelines here, and get in touch!


What Does Being a Girl Mean To You?

It means you have a challenge to genuinely be your own person.

From a very early age girls are being encouraged to conform in certain ways. They are being moulded by a society that wants them to be pink and glittery. Look at the clothes and shoes that society wants to dress its girls in. Magazines for very little girls that come with a free lipgloss or twinkly eye shadow. Magazines and television programmes for my age full of wraith like models encouraging girls to focus on celebrities, giving advice on how to flirt and impress boys, how to diet, which clothes to buy. It seems girls are to be judged on appearance not ability.

So how can you be yourself with such pressures and expectations?

It’s not easy.

We all saw it on the news, a shockingly low number of girls are choosing to take the opportunity to learn about the universe and all that’s in it. A level physics it seems, is not for girls. I think people my age worry so much about what is seen as acceptable and the stereotype tells us physics is difficult and a male subject, often reinforced it seems by there being predominantly male physics teachers. Why should it be odd for a girl to like studying atoms or space? Maybe if we take the subject we will challenge the boys and make them feel less important?! I can do that! Is it unfeminine and uncool for girls to study physics? Schools talk about equal opps, well it needs looking at, because sometimes it is very subtle things that affect you. I’m a girl, I love physics, I am going to do what I want, but it’s not easy.

So physics is not for girls, what else?

The Olympics this year was brilliant at raising the profile of sporty women. Jess Ennis, Ellie Simmonds, all the GB women rowers. Before the games the spotlight was always on male dominated sports such as football, rugby and cricket. Sadly I imagine it will go back to being like that again. Sport it seems is a man’s world, and there isn’t as much encouragement for girls. I think the pressure is on to be attractive not active, thin not toned. Girls may worry about being too muscly, or maybe they worry about how their bodies look in sports gear.

Well guess what? I love sport too!

I am a keen rower, I have to run, works on ergos and blast out repetitions of weights. I’m going against the grain again, but I am determined to be my own person.

So what Does Being a Girl Mean To You?

Well I want it all! But to have it all is not easy. There are pressures both obvious and subtle at work to make us conform to stereotypes, and I have given just two examples. To genuinely be yourself, do what you want and have it all is a very big challenge, but I think I’m up for it.

Flo aged 15



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