The kids were divided into two teams, handed blasters loaded up with white vinegar and given strict instructions on where and where not to fire them; then they set to work!
The winning team got first pick from a bag of Star Wars chocolates and sweets, before both teams got to destroy a frozen Death Star to finish off the activity.
I recommend reading Fun-A-Day's excellent 'Rescue Han Solo Lego science experiment' for full instructions on how to mix up baking soda and water. I added a little more water than she suggests in an effort to make the baking soda go further, and we did find later that the vinegar couldn't completely free all of the figures. Sticking to her 3:1 baking soda/water ratio might get better results - though we still got a good fizz and had fun chipping and hammering the remaining carbonite away.
I found mixing in some of G-Man's kid-safe silver poster paint was a great way to get a convincingly carbonite-esque colour. I also added glitter to the first couple of batches, but it didn't really work in the dense mix so I didn't bother after that.
As I was using chunky galactic hero figures, I couldn't fit these guys into any of our ice cube trays, so instead used some disposable foil trays. These worked fine, though it was hard to break the blocks up into individual figures later. A quick rinse under hot water sorted that out and was enough to soften the blocks to break them without activating the baking soda.
Preparation, Preparation Preparation...
This activity definitely got messy, but we managed to contain it with a little pre-party planning, and deliberately did this one on the kitchen table. The table was covered with an ultra cheap, cheerful and disposable black tablecloth which went right into the bin after the game finished, and took care of most of the mess. The blasters were all pre-loaded and stored in a large plastic bowl that captured any leaks, and each team had a large plant tray (over a metre in size - the kind that are like mini tuff spots!) in which their carbonite victims were placed. The trays were big enough that four kids could gather around each one and squirt at/poke/prod their subjects without getting in each others way. A quick rinse after the game and these were good as new.
I would recommend protective eyewear if you are using blasters rather than syringes or pipettes to apply the vinegar (otherwise you will get spray in someone's eyes!), and some kids may find the smell of the vinegar too strong. We had planned for this and had a load of our existing Star Wars toys available for play next door in the sitting room, which kept the only three kids who didn't want to do the activity happy until we were done.
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